Sangh’s Nitin Gadkari is new BJP chief

  • Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Dec 20, 2009 02:28 IST

He may have taken over the reins of the BJP at a difficult time, but Nitin Gadkari believes he is just the man for the job.

“If you have the will, you will have the way,” the 52-year-old told his partymen on Saturday. “Otherwise, you create committees, conduct surveys and do nothing. We’re here to find the way (to fix the ills in the party).”

Gadkari made the remarks in his acceptance speech before central office-bearers, shortly after the party’s parliamentary board appointed him BJP chief.

Striking a note of humility, he bowed to the galaxy of leaders — including L.K. Advani, outgoing BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — who were present to felicitate him.

But he also asserted that he  had gone through several difficult phases in life and was used to overcoming challenges.

“I began by posting posters against the Emergency,” he said. “I want to assure you I’ll do nothing to make your heads hang in shame.”

He said Saturday would be his first night in the capital as earlier he used to rush back to Nagpur as early as possible after each trip. “Delhi will be my home henceforth,” he said.

He tried to convey that he had not been part of any BJP coterie in Delhi.

“Gadkari delivers,” Advani told the gathering. “You cannot forget his work (as Maharashtra PWD minister) when the Mumbai-Pune expressway came up.” Singh too praised him.

Known to be chosen by the RSS to set the BJP in order, Gadkari echoed the Sangh’s line that “cultural nationalism is the inspiration. Our politics must be such that serves the nation and the society.”

Gadkari told the media he was not an RSS nominee. “Advani and Rajnath were the ones who told me first to accept the responsibility,” he said.

Gadkari’s elevation marks the culmination of a bitter period in the BJP following the Lok Sabha poll debacle.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had insisted that the new BJP chief should be between 55 and 65 years and from outside Delhi.


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