Mumbai: Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has raised eyebrows by saying that a strong Congress Party is necessary for India’s democracy. He has also urged Congress leaders "not to lose heart" over their frequent election defeats and remain "loyal" to the party.
"A strong Congress Party is necessary for democracy so that it prevents the regional parties from capturing the Opposition space. I ‘sincerely wish’ that the Congress, battered by serial election losses, becomes stronger and that its leaders do not switch sides in despair," he said at a function in Pune.
The views expressed by Mr Gadkari assume significance as they are in stark contrast to the BJP’s official stand in favour of a "Congress-mukt Bharat" (Congress-free India).
"Democracy runs on two wheels -- the ruling party and the Opposition. A strong Opposition is needed for democracy. Hence, it is my sincere wish that the Congress Party should become stronger. Also, with the Congress weakened, its place is being taken by regional parties, which is not good for democracy. So, the Opposition should be strong," Mr Gadkari said.
He also appealed Congressmen not to abandon their ideology in despair over election defeats. "Those who follow the Congress ideology should remain in the party and stick to their convictions. They must continue to work and not despair over defeat. If there is defeat, one day there is victory too," the senior Union minister said.
Maharashtra Congress leader Sachin Sawant welcomed Mr Gadkari’s remarks, but also expressed concern over the BJP’s attempts to destroy the Opposition. "We appreciate whatever concern Gadkari ji has shown. But he should also speak to his leader Modi ji about the BJP’s efforts to destroy the Opposition parties and democracy by misusing Central probe agencies," Mr Sawant said.
It will be in the interest of democracy and the country if he (Gadkari) talks to Modi ji on the mindset of the BJP to destroy the Opposition party and attempts to convert democracy into dictatorship, the Congress leader said.