By Sunil Narula

The President of BJP, Nitin Gadkari, was on a personal visit to BC and he interacted with dignitaries and local media in Vancouver on Thursday evening. BJP is the main opposition political party in India and Gadkari is seen by many in India as a dynamic leader.

While interacting with guests at Salaam Bombay Restaurant in Burrad Street, Gadkari said he is not on a political visit and will therefore not answer any political questions. But Gadkari did say that back home in India there is lot of hue and cry going on about “Coalgate“ and his own visit to Canada at this time is also being criticised by opposing groups. Gadkari`s home in Delhi was gheraoed (surrounded) by protesters agitating against “Coalgate“.

“I am here on holiday and will be going back on Friday. My own visit to Canada is being criticised by opponents back home but that is fine. I really like coming to Vancouver and I just wanted to meet members of our own community who are doing so well in Canada. When you come here you want to meet Indian people,“ said Gadkari.

India`s new Consul General in Vancouver, Ravi Shankar Aisola, was also present on the occasion and he welcomed Gadkari and asked those present not to hesitate to approach him in any regard and he will do his best to address whatever issues people have.

“I have only been here for three weeks now and I must admit that I am not missing India because I see and meet so many Indians here,“ said Aisola.

Former Premier of BC, Ujjal Dosanjh, also welcomed Gadkari. “I welcome Mr Gadkari here. I am aware of the challenges that political parties face back in India given that India is such a vast country with so many people. And he is doing a good job in that regard and I wish him all the luck,“ said Dosanjh.

Gadkari`s visit to Vancouver was also significant because only last week Punjab`s Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Badal, had cancelled his own visit to Canada. Gadkari is President of BJP which is an ally of Badal`s party Akali Dal. In a way it showed if Gadkari had no problem in coming to Canada, Badal too would have had no problem. But that is another story.

Inevitably, Gadkari was asked about Gujarat riots, which remain a thorny topic in Indian politics. “It`s only some people with vested interests who cannot stand the rapid advancement of Gujarat who are making these allegations. They just want to show Gujarat in a bad light. But the reality is entirely different and there`s no problem in Gujarat,“ said Gadkari.

Others who spoke on the occasion and welcomed Gadkari also included Gurwant Grewal, Maninder Singh Gill and Aditya Tewatia.