Sonia, Kharge join BJP MPs to laud Gadkari

New Delhi: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha. (LSTV grab via PTI)

Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, and the party's leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Thursday joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians in the House to applaud Highways and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Gadkari has of late been at the centre of a speculation over an alternative choice for the office of the Prime Minister of a BJP-led coalition government, in case the saffron party gets a lesser mandate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and Narendra Modi has to step aside to make room for a successor, who will be more acceptable to its partners in coalition partners.

He was on Thursday responding to the questions on the projects run by his Ministry of Highways and Road Transport in the Lok Sabha, when Gandhi and Kharge joined the BJP MPs to thump desk in applause.

"I must say here that the MPs — no matter whichever political parties they belong to — have been appreciating me for the works being done by my ministry in their constituencies," said Gadkari, adding, "These are good compliments. I really thank you. Thank you very much.”

The transport minister was responding to questions on the Union Government's Char Dham Highway Project and Bharatmala Pariyojana. He informed the House that the work on building a highway from Gurugram to Vadodara and Mumbai has already started.

The project would spur development in backward and tribal areas of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. When the project is completed, people would be able to travel between Mumbai and Delhi by car in just 12 hours, he said.

Ganesh Singh, BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh, suggested that the Lok Sabha should applaud Minister for Road Transport and Highways for the work being carried out by his ministry.

This prompted the MPs of the Treasury Bench to thump desk in applause. Gandhi and Kharge and a few other Congress MPs also joined them.

Gadkari, who has close ties with the top brass of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, of late made some comments, which were perceived to be a veiled attack against Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

He said that political leaders who sold false dreams were ultimately beaten up by people. His more recent comment that "one who cannot take care of home cannot manage the country” was lauded by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Twitter: “Gadkari Ji, compliments. You are the only one in the BJP with some guts. Please also comment on: The Rafale scam and Anil Ambani, farmers' distress and destruction of institutions.”

Gadkari and Rahul Gandhi were also seen engaged in a discussion during the Republic Day ceremony on Rajpath on January 26.

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