Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019 | Last Update : 11:15 PM IST

Nitin Gadkari, RSS’ ambitious blue-eyed boy

THE ASIAN AGE. | JOSEPH RAO
Published : Apr 1, 2019, 2:37 am IST
Updated : Apr 1, 2019, 2:37 am IST

A string of controversies, however, has clouded his prospects several times.

Nitin Gadkari (Photo: Twitter | ANI)
 Nitin Gadkari (Photo: Twitter | ANI)

Nagpur: A dedicated foot soldier of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Nitin Gadkari has ascended the top of the political ladder with his trademark daring.

Known for kicking off controversies with his off-the-cuff remarks — sometimes against his own party leadership — the 62-year-old has had to often clarify what he “actually meant to say”. While his opponents inside the party have time and again never let go of an opportunity to let him down, Mr Gadkari has always managed to chart a clear course.

Mr Gadkari has received praise for his stint as the Union minister of road transport and highways by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) colleagues as well leaders in the Opposition. An undisputed leader in Vidarbha, his proximity to the RSS helped him bag the coveted post of the national president of the BJP and five important portfolios at the Centre — road transport, shipping, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

He also claimed to have undertaken projects and works worth Rs 17 lakh crore during his five-year stint at the Centre. He is also called the Vikas Purush for his tenure as the state’s public works department (PWD) minister in the 1990s when the state saw unprecedented infrastructure development during his tenure including the building of a total of 55 flyovers in Mumbai alone, an ambitious Mumbai-Pune Express Highway and a host of roads and flyover projects across the state.

He is also known as a successful entrepreneur and as someone who introduced the first bio-diesel pump in the country.

A string of controversies, however, has clouded his prospects several times.

Mr Gadkari had to unceremoniously bow out as national president due to alleged irregularities in his Purti Group, which has interests in sugar and power. The controversy centred on investments and the appointment of the director of the firm and led to his appearance before the income tax authorities.

His recent statements have also put him in direct conflict with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, giving ample opportunity for the party’s detractors to claim that he might be eyeing the Prime Ministerial role after the 2019 polls. And though the minister had denied this often, there is a possibility in case of the BJP getting fewer seats.

After the Congress’ victory in three state polls and a strong alliance of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, most opinion polls now indicate a hung Parliament in the 2019 elections though the BJP is likely to be the single largest party.

Tags: nitin gadkari, rashtriya swayamsevak sangh, bharatiya janata party