'Govt ready to pay political price for tough decisions'

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said his government is ready to "pay a political price" for stringent decisions like demonetisation and the GST, even as he admitted there is an agricultural crisis and rural distress in the country.

He also hoped the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections won't be the same as the just-concluded assembly polls, in which the BJP lost three states to the Congress.

Stressing that agriculture was a focus area for the Modi government at the Centre, Gadkari said it was a complex issue and its remedy would take time.

Drawing a parallel, the minister said anything can happen in politics and cricket and it would be wrong to assume that the assembly results were giving a reflection of what would happen during the general elections next year.

He said development was the focus of the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, and they were ready to pay a political price for "certain stringent decisions" like demonetisation and GST, taken in the "interest of the country".

Speaking at the India Economic Conclave organised here by Times Network, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways said agenda of politics was different at national, state, district and municipal levels and it is highly difficult to predict on which issue a political party wins.

"As far as we are concerned, our agenda will be development and for this we have taken a few stringent decisions like demonetisation and GST. But I feel these issues should not be politicised as we are seeing its benefits in the form of reduction in black-money and improvement in the economy," he said.

"For the interest of the country if we have to take certain stringent decisions and if we have to pay a political price, we are ready for it," Gadkari added.

Admitting that there was an agricultural crisis and rural distress in the country, he said the government has been taking all necessary measures to ensure the sector grows significantly.

"Agriculture is our priority, but we need to understand that it is such a complex issue that there is no immediate solution and remedy to the problems of this sector and it will take time.

"Also, unless the rural and agri economy becomes robust, unless we increase the purchasing power of the large population and improve employment and boost manufacturing and services sectors, we will not be able to achieve overall development of the nation, and this is our priority," he said.

When asked if the BJP's defeat in three states has dented the party's image, Gadkari said, "It is matter of research on what parameters a voter elects a particular party during elections...Is it stability, economy or employment? But I feel that major part of politics is dominated by three Cs- cash, caste and criminals. Though this approach has changed to some extent, it still exists."

On the Maharashtra government's recent decision to grant 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs to the Maratha community, Gadkari said, "No one is saying that he is forward and everyone wants to prove that he is backward...this is a fact. This is vote bank politics."

"There are people, who use reservation card strategically to win elections. But there are others who work on the grass-root levels and get elected every time," he said.

Talking about the defeat in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP ruled for 15 years under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the minister said, "After ruling for so many years, anti incumbency was bound to be there. But the outcome of 2019 Lok Sabha maybe or may not be same as that of the recent assembly elections."

"The agenda and subjects of all elections are different. The work which our government has done at the national level will be tested during the Lok Sabha elections only," he said.

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'Govt ready to pay political price for tough decisions'

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