Gadkari to I-T officers: Who will protect you when BJP wins power?

Saying he was now a "free" man and a "mard" (macho), former BJP president Nitin Gadkari Thursday warned income-tax officers that there would be no one to protect them when the BJP comes to power at the Centre in 2014.

Gadkari's comments came a day after he was forced to step aside and not seek a second term as party president following fresh income-tax investigations into investors in his Purti group.

The bruised BJP leader from Nagpur returned to his hometown on Thursday and addressed hundreds of his supporters outside the airport, focusing mostly on his own political career, while senior BJP leaders in New Delhi were protesting against Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's "saffron terror" remark.

"The conspiracy was going on against me day in and day out in Mumbai and Delhi. I had a lot of restrictions while I was party president. I am no longer one, and I am today a free man. I am a fighter, I love to fight," Gadkari said. "I will take this fight to the end and will expose all big Congress leaders at the Centre. When we come to power, who will be there to save them (I-T officers)?"

He also described Congress as a party of "one landlady and the rest servants".

Gadkari was taken to his Gadkari Wada house in the Mahal area of the city in a procession like in 2009 when he was named party president and in 2012 when many questions were raised in the media over alleged irregularities in his Purti group.

Hinting that he will have a role to play in Delhi in the future, Gadkari asked his supporters to gear for elections. "Your love and affection is my strength," he said. Gadkari has in the past said that he will contest Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur.

The former Maharashtra minister also ridiculed media houses as "dukaan" (shop). "One channel shows something and then everyone else follows. The bosses tell their reporters to go to Gadkari's house and bring some news. Not their (reporters') fault. It's their job to move around the whole day with the danduka (microphone) in their hands. Please don't target them," he said.

"I have never worked for any post or to become CM or PM. I will not accept any post unless I am acquitted of all charges," he said. "My future programme will be to provide 50,000 jobs to Vidarbha youth and Rs 1 crore for Vidarbha's farmers to ensure that no farmer commits suicide. Let's all work together without any divisions of caste, language and religion," he said.

Gadkari also touched upon national issues such as inflation and Shinde's "Hindu terror" allegations against the BJP and RSS. "They couldn't hang Afzal Guru and have the gumption to level such allegations against us. Instead of taking Pakistan on, they are trying to help it with such statements," he said.

Polls favour NDA

Two different "mood of the nation" surveys conducted by two news channels on Thursday projected the BJP-led NDA as the winner if Lok Sabha polls were held today.

The ABP News-Nielsen survey pegged the NDA's vote share at 39%, and the UPA's at 22%.

The India Today-Nielsen survey gave 203 seats to the NDA (27% vote share), and 157 seats to the UPA (28% vote share).

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