"My best wishes to him", said Nitin Gadkari to Nana Patole, his opponent for Nagpur Lok Sabha seat.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said he never keeps enmity with political rivals, and extended his good wishes to former BJP MP Nana Patole, pitted against him for the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat election next month.
Nana Patole's name was among the five Congress candidates from Maharashtra announced on Wednesday.
To a query on the Congress fielding Mr Patole from his home turf, Mr Gadkari told reporters, "It is good, any candidate has the right to contest election. I would not like to comment or criticise any candidate."
The senior BJP leader said he will go to people with the work he has done in the last five years.
When a reporter said that at one time Nana Patole had Mr Gadkari's blessings when he was in the BJP, the minister said if one leaves the party, it does not mean blessings will go away.
"I have never kept such ''dushmani'' (enmity) in politics. My best wishes to him," the Lok Sabha member said. Nana Patole, who earlier won the Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary seat in Maharashtra, quit the BJP last year over differences with party leadership on agrarian issues.
Elections to 48 LS seats in Maharashtra will be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
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