Union Minister Nitin Gadkari was bullish on Monday ahead of filing his nomination for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur, extolling his and the government's development work and brushing aside the Opposition's efforts towards downplaying 'Vikaas'.
Speaking to media before embarking on a road-show alongside Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, the Surface transport and Shipping minister said that work had been done in Nagpur that hadn't even been imagined when the Modi government came into power, claiming that more had been delivered than had been promised in the manifesto.
"Under Modiji, the development work we've done, the people are really supporting it. Because of it, on the back of the government's work, I will win decisively."
"We've delivered much more than our manifesto promised (in Nagpur)", he said, mentioning transport infrastructure projects as well as education and housing projects, speaking about how Nagpur had laid down the marker for a number of other cities.
On the Opposition's claim of under-employment, he spoke about the projects he'd undertaken in his own ministries, stating that they're worth Rs 17 lakh crore. "If a project worth Rs. 1000 crore is launched, at least 10,000 people get direct employment. So imagine how much employment would have been created," Gadkari said.
When asked about Congress president Rahul Gandhi's submissions - that the Modi government had only worked for wealthy industrialists - he said, "Rahul Gandhi isn't taken seriously by the people, why do you take him seriously?". Gadkari cited the beneficiaries of the government's schemes for farmers, low-income housing and healthcare, adding, "those whose perspective is such that they don't see anything good, there's no point in trying."
On the politicisation of the armed forces since the Pulwama terror attack, he said, "National security is paramount, to politicise the forces is completely wrong and politics should rise above it."
When asked about how the Opposition parties are coming together to take on the NDA, Gadkari put forth that it was the government's strength that was precipitating it: "Gathbandhan is strengthening because we're strong. They wouldn't meet each other earlier and now they're standing shoulder to shoulder because they've realised our strength."
Coming to Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra undertaking a Ganga yatra and still claiming no work had been done towards cleaning the Ganga, he said, "Had I not created the Prayagraj-Varanasi waterway, how would she have gone? And would she drink water from the Ganga during the UPA's time? Just this means that work has been done. Not all, but within a year - by next March - it'll be 100% pure."
He was then asked about what kind of mandate the NDA would get, to which he said, "The BJP will get full majority, bigger than last time." On his own role post-2019, he said that he doesn't look at his position and that "It's the PM's decision to award ministries as he wills."
When asked about what he plans to do in terms of development works in the next five years, Gadkari spoke about a 'double-decker flying bus' that can connect 500 cities - likely related to the UDAN scheme - and spoke about electricity and transport proliferation.
Finally, on his own chances of retaining his Nagpur Lok Sabha seat, he said that he's fully confident about victory and that he 'will win by over five lakh votes.' In the 2014 elections, he had beaten the second-placed Congress candidate by almost 3 lakh votes.