Nana Patole, who is the Congress' candidate from Nagpur Lok Sabha seat currently held by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Saturday said in a democracy, people are powerful and not leaders. Addressing a press conference here, Patole claimed Gadkari's "larger than life" personality would have no impact on the polls.
Attacking Gadkari, Patole demanded a "white paper" on budget money spent on Nagpur and how much debt had been laden on residents of the city in the name of development. "In a democracy, a leader is not powerful but it is the public. Hence, I don't see anyone more powerful than people. This point (Gadkari's image) won't have much impact," he said, adding that Gadkari was his "elder brother".
"The way Nagpur's development is being projected is a farce and is full of scams. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is not an autonomous institution anymore. Major NMC properties worth several crore rupees have been handed over to the Nagpur metro project," he alleged. He claimed the concept and development of the Multi-Modal Airport and Cargo Hub, Nagpur (popularly called MIHAN) was started by former Congress MP Vilas Muttemwar.
Muttemwar had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to Gadkari. Attacking Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Gadkari, both of whom hail from Nagpur, Patole said the two kept dishing out different figures like "Rs 80,000 crore and Rs 60,000 crore" spent on development works in the city. "You should give an account of how much and from where Rs 80,000 crore or Rs 60,000 crore has been brought and spent. How do you plan to return this money," he questioned.
He said the BJP had promised an All India Institute of Medical Sciences facility in Nagpur but work on it had not yet started. He attacked the Centre over what he claimed was seeking of votes in the name of Pulwama attack martyrs and the air strike that followed. "I feel that Pakistan and China want Narendra Modi to come back as Prime Minister. China is being favoured by the government and it is dumping its goods in India. But when it comes to declaring Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, China does not support India," he claimed.
Patole had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket from Bhandara-Gondiya before quitting the party and Parliament in 2017 and joining the Congress.
(With inputs from agencies.)