Here’s what happened when Eknath Shinde, Nitin Gadkari and K T Rama Rao met at the Gateway of India.
Rediff.com‘s Prasanna D Zore and Hitesh Harisinghani listened in.
Telangana Minister K T Rama Rao, whose father Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao aka KCR is busy stitching up an alliance of Opposition parties to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, was taken aback when Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde proposed to him that they become partners even as Union Minister Nitin Gadkari couldn’t help chuckle.
“Now that you have come here, you can become our partner,” Shinde proposed to KTR, who was at Mumbai’s Gateway of India doing a roadshow to promote India’s first ABB FIA Formula E World Championship which will begin in Hyderabad on February 11.
KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samiti has organised a mammoth rally in Khammam on January 18 where Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi party Convenor Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann and Janata Dal-Secular chief H D Kumaraswamy will be in attendance.
A day later, Modi will be in Khammam inaugurating various developmental projects after he is done with inaugurating Metro 2A and 7 lines in Mumbai on the same day.
Before KTR could recover from this surprising proposal, Shinde added. “Maharashtra has huge potential, we have good infrastructure, and skilled manpower.”
KTR was accompanied by Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty, founder of Greenko and the Ace Group, the official promoter of the Formula E race in India.
Shinde’s rustic style of camaraderie was not just limited to KTR.
Recalling Gadkari’s contribution to development of highways and expressways in India, Shinde revealed how the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray would address the minister.
Shinde, who laced his 10 minute address in Marathi, Hindi and English, said, “Gadkari saheb ka naam toh hamare Balasaheb Thackerayji ne rakha tha — Roadkariji.”
“Itne road bana rahe hai, aur banane bhi chhaiye (he has built so many highways and expressways; and it was about time that we did); connectivity is very important for our country’s progress,” Shinde said.
Given the non-stop race between the Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Shinde to pull up a fast one on each other at any given opportunity, Shinde did not spare his rival Sena faction.
Referring to his rebellion against Uddhav, which began on June 20, Shinde said, “Anilji (of Greenko) your race will begin now (on February 11 in Hyderabad) but we too played a race six months ago on June 20. We have won that race.”
“I have requested Anilji and Gadkari saheb that this race should also be organised in Maharashtra and for that our Balasaheb Thackeray Samrudhhi Expressway (the Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway would offer the smoothest track. All the Formula E-Prix drivers would love it,” Shinde said.
“The travel time between Nagpur-Mumbai (about 800 km), which was 16-18 hours earlier, has now come down to 6-7 hours. It is a green corridor; we have planted 30 lakh (three million) trees along this expressway,” Shinde said before he bid Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra to end his address.
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