Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday accused the Opposition and a section of the media of “twisting his statements”, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party leader was reported as saying that “leadership should own up to defeat”.

On Saturday, the minister for road transport and highways had reportedly said that unlike success, nobody is willing to own up to failures. Leadership should have the “tendency” to admit defeat and failures, Gadkari said at an event in Pune, PTI reported. “Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, as when there is success, there will be a race to take credit but in case of failure, everybody will start pointing fingers at each other,” he said.

Gadkari was speaking at an event organised by the Pune District Urban Co-operative Banks Association. While presenting awards to banks with least bad loans, the Union minister said, “Sometimes, banks achieve success and sometime they will have to face failure…The banks have to face both the situations…In politics, when there is a failure, a committee is formed but in case of success, nobody comes and asks you.”

His reported remarks assume significance in wake of the BJP’s defeat in the recently-concluded Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

However, on Sunday, the senior BJP leader said his statements were twisted. “In the last few days, I have noticed a sinister campaign by some opposition parties and a section of the media to twist my statements and use them out of context and draw politically motivated inferences to malign me and my party,” Gadkari said on Twitter.

He said he condemned the “malafide and mischievous out of context reports” that were attributed to him. “Let me make it clear once and for all that conspiracies to create a wedge between me and the BJP leadership will never succeed,” he said. “I have been clarifying my position at various forums and shall continue to do so and expose these nefarious designs of our detractors.”

Talking to reporters later on Sunday, Gadkari said his remarks had no political overtones. “My entire speech in Marathi is available. Whatever I said was in the context of banking and I neither referred it to any election nor any political leader. But unfortunately, a section of media twisted my statement by linking it to the current electoral politics by adding up their own comment,” he said.

Gadkari also asserted that he was not in the race to lead the BJP ahead of the 2019 General Elections. Last week, Kishore Tiwari, the chairperson of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission, wrote to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, demanding that Union minister Nitin Gadkari be allowed to lead the party for the Lok Sabha elections.

“If someone is writing something, how am I related to it?” Gadkari said. “”It is very clear the BJP will contest 2019 general elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party will get reasonable majority.”