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Mystery of the wrecker of dreams

Nitin Gadkari floats a riddle as he says people love dreamers but punish those who fail to keep their promise

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi

  • Published 22.12.18, 3:45 AM
  • Updated 22.12.18, 8:48 AM
The minister for Ganga rejuvenation (among several other portfolios) was speaking in the context of a “dream” plan that envisages tourists flying just 10cm above the water in an airboat over a “clean and free-flowing Ganga”.
The minister for Ganga rejuvenation (among several other portfolios) was speaking in the context of a “dream” plan that envisages tourists flying just 10cm above the water in an airboat over a “clean and free-flowing Ganga”. The Telegraph file picture

Union minister Nitin Gadkari has sprung a tantalising riddle on the BJP and the rest of the country in the run-up to the general election.

Sapne dikhane wale logon ko achchhe lagte hai, par dikhaye hue sapne jab pure nahi hote hai to un netaon ki log pitai bhi karte hain (People love those who spin dreams but if those dreams are not fulfilled, those leaders are thrashed by the people),” Gadkari said on Friday, a smile spreading on his face.

The minister for Ganga rejuvenation (among several other portfolios) was speaking in the context of a “dream” plan that envisages tourists flying just 10cm above the water in an airboat over a “clean and free-flowing Ganga”.

His statement fired imaginations within sections of the BJP, which began speculating whether the reference to tall promises and the summary justice awaiting defaulters carried a contemporary allusion.

The speculation gained traction probably because one of the Opposition’s charges against the Narendra Modi government is that the Prime Minister promised the moon but has delivered little. “Achchhe din”, the blockbuster slogan of 2014, has become the biggest butt of ridicule in the country.

Gadkari, minister for road transport and highways, shipping and water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, made the comment to a reporter’s question after signing an agreement for sewage treatment in Kanpur, aimed at cleaning the Ganga.

“It’s beyond imagination that someone will reach here (Delhi) from Gangotri in a boat (airboat). But I am positive. The technology we have brought from Russia will enable an airboat to fly at a 10cm draft,” he said.

“It will have an automobile (Land Cruiser) engine and airplane wings would be fitted to it…. Today I’m not promising anything… but if we succeed, it will bring about a revolutionary change. Water transport will start. We will build floating jetties, water will be clean, good ghats will be built, on both sides (of the river) will be trees, people will come and Ganga will give them unforgettable happiness. It’s a dream,” Gadkari said, asked about his plans for using the waterways.

After acknowledging “it’s a dream”, Gadkari delivered the knockout punch on “sapne dikhane wale logon” and “pitai”.

Gadkari claimed that the dreams he had so far shown people had been fulfilled and acknowledged that the Ganga dream was “bahut (very) difficult”. He, however, hoped that if the airboat’s trial runs between Delhi and Agra, and between Varanasi and Prayagraj (Allahabad), on January 26 succeeded, it would start a “new success story in the history of tourism”.

Apart from critics, many in the BJP too believe that the Modi government has failed to fulfil the dreams it had conjured up in 2014.

The BJP’s recent defeats in three heartland states are being seen as a reflection of the growing discontent among the poor.

A feeling is growing among a large section of BJP leaders that the party might fail to repeat the spectacular performance of 2014.

Some party leaders like home minister Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari are being seen as possible leadership candidates acceptable to alliance partners if the BJP fails to secure a majority on its own in 2019.

Recently, a prominent farmer leader from Maharashtra, Gadkari’s home state, wrote to the RSS that the Union minister should be allowed to lead the BJP to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if the party hopes to return to power.

Kishore Tiwari, chairperson of the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (a state government outfit), told RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi in his letter that the BJP’s defeats in the three heartland states were the result of “arrogant leaders”. He cited the demonetisation, GST and high fuel prices as the possible triggers.

After the contents of the letter became public, Gadkari had denied he was in the race for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. “No there is no chance. I’m happy where I am right now,” he had said.

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