Tuesday, 7 October 2014

'I Said Nothing Wrong,' Nitin Gadkari Tells NDTV on Bribes-for-Votes Remarks

'I Said Nothing Wrong,' Nitin Gadkari Tells NDTV on Bribes-for-Votes Remarks
Nitin Gadkari speaks to NDTV on his controversial remarks while campaigning in Maharashtra
Pune:  Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has been asked by the Election Commission to explain remarks that appeared to endorse bribes for votes, says there is no question of apologizing as he has said nothing wrong.

"I can see your faces and predict the future. I predict that you will see Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) very soon. Don't say no to Lakshmi. My only request is, eat whatever you want, drink whatever you want, because these are times when black money will go to the poor. Your vote should be for the development of Maharashtra," Mr Gadkari said on Sunday while campaigning in Latur in Maharashtra, which votes for a new government on October 15.

The Election Commission has asked him for an explanation by 5 pm on Wednesday.

Speaking to NDTV, Mr Gadkari said, "My comments are being distorted. I have said nothing wrong. There is no question of apologizing. I told people don't vote for money being offered to you, but vote for your future."

He insisted that by "Lakshmi", he meant the goddess, not money.

The former BJP chief was also unapologetic about his allegation at another rally in Sindhudurg that journalists are asking for varying packages for covering the polls.

"Go to any constituency, ask any candidate. Everyone is talking about packages. It may not be all journalists but most are asking for packages...these could also mean newspaper ads," he told NDTV.

Mr Gadkari's party, the BJP, swept the national election in May with Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister, pledging economic reform, jobs, and corruption-free governance.

In Maharashtra, the BJP and Shiv Sena delivered the strongest-ever performance in their 25-year partnership, winning 41 of the state's 48 parliamentary seats.

The decision last month by the BJP to end the alliance confounded many. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has accused the BJP of betrayal. The BJP says it wanted to contest from more seats than Mr Thackeray was willing to share.