Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, in a freewheeling chat with CNN-IBN's Bhupendra Chaubey, opened up on topics usually considered a no-go within the BJP ranks by commenting on Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. He maintained that the BJP is following the coalition dharma to a tee and puts the onus on Mehbooba Mufti for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
"This party is not of Narendra Modi nor of Amit Shah. It's not of Nitin Gadkari. It belongs to the country," Gadkari said when his opinion was sought on Shah's re-election as the BJP chief for the second time consecutively.
The minister did not believe that Prime Minister Modi's popularity is on the wean and the Bihar drubbing in the Assembly elections last year was only the result of an united opposition.
"No question of admitting a loss in popularity of Narendra Modi. We lost Bihar just because our opponents joined hands. We have lost elections during Atal-Advani era too. Did anyone ask them to quit their positions because of loss? Why single out (BJP president) Amit Shah?" Gadkari asked on CNN-IBN.
Talking about the prospects of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union minister was quick to put the responsibility on People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti.
"Mehbooba Mufti has to make up her mind in Jammu and Kashmir. We remain committed to the agreement worked out with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed," he said. He also denied that any moves are being made for a tie up with the National Conference.
"We are not contemplating any tie up yet with the National Conference or anyone else at this stage," the minister said.
He even assured that a boat ride between Delhi and Agra would be a reality before he ceases to be the Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping.
"You will be able to take a boat ride between Delhi and Agra during my tenure. I am committed," Gadkari said.
The interview goes on air tonight at The Hot Seat on CNN-IBN at 10 pm.