Nitin Gadkari says suitcase, horse-trading strategy was not used to win Goa Assembly polls 2017

New Delhi: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday revealed how the BJP turned its defeat into victory in Goa by working throughout the night to garner the required numbers for forming the government and agreeing to make the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar the chief minister. He added that while the Congress was sleeping, his party worked all night in order to form the government.

 Nitin Gadkari says suitcase, horse-trading strategy was not used to win Goa Assembly polls 2017

File image of Nitin Gadkari. PTI

At the same time, he strongly refuted any charges of horse-trading during the hectic overnight parleys. BJP, which won 13 seats in the recently held Goa election, managed to form the government even though the Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats.

"I am not a person who does political deals. I am a mard and do everything openly. I did not carry any money to anyone in Goa. I don't do such things. I fight and get things done," the senior BJP leader and Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister said at the India Today Editors Roundtable. He was replying to allegations that it was money power that ensured required numbers for BJP in Goa.

Speaking on the developments on the night before BJP staked claim to form the government, Gadkari said he informed BJP President Amit Shah that the party had lost Goa and should concede defeat. However, Shah asked him to devise a strategy as he had already announced that BJP was going to form the government in Goa. Gadkari said he was asked by Shah to go to Goa right away
after a meeting with him. "I came back home, took my clothes and left for Goa," he said.

In Goa, Gadkari said an apparently angry Sudin Dhavalikar of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) came to meet him at the Taj hotel in Panaji and shared some issues which could not be disclosed on the platform but agreed to form an alliance with the BJP on the condition that he be given a ministerial berth. Gadkari said with Dhavalikar's support, BJP’s strength went to 16 and then he was approached by Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party (GFP).

"He has been a Congress man for his entire life. But he was being tortured by the Congress for past five years. We had got Dinesh Singh, who is a wrestler from Uttar Pradesh, and is a friend of Sardesai. He convinced Sardesai," Gadkari said. The senior minister said Sardesai, along with a ministerial berth, wanted Manohar Parrikar to be made the chief minister. "It was around 2.45 am when I called up party president Amit Shah. I told him that they want Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister. Amit Shah asked if Parrikar is ready.

"I had asked Parrikar, he said he would do whatever party asked (him) to do. But, my reading of his mind was that he was more than happy to return to Goa. I told the same to Amit Shah," he said.

Gadkari said Shah promised to get back to him by 8 am as he would not call up the prime minister at that hour and later called back in the affirmative. He said the parliamentary board was also ready. Gadkari also took a dig at the Congress, saying, "Congress leaders told me you did a wrong thing in Goa. But I told them that your leader was sleeping while we were working."

Queried about Maharashtra politics of Shiv Sena, he said Sena leaders should be asked about it. In reply to another question on whether he would like to return to Maharashtra politics, the minister said, “Hundred percent I will not go to Maharashtra now. Earlier, I did not want to come to Delhi but I don't want to return now as I have much to do and complete the dreams of a sound infrastructure for the country."

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Updated Date: May 21, 2017 15:07:41 IST