If Nitin Gadkari had never blabbed to Anjali Damania of AAP that he was great friends with the Pawars and that he could not take up any cases of corruption against Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar, he would have been prime minister of India today.
The RSS had been preparing to launch Gadkari as their PM candidate for years before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and preparing an excited Nagpur for the thought that they might be voting a prime minister to office. But though he won the polls, he lost the high stakes as he was tripped up by his own partymen over alleged scams in his Purti sugar factory — something that is haunting him even today vis-à-vis a CAG report the Congress has got its teeth into.
But Gadkari also has enemies within. Many BJP leaders are not amused at the growing realisation among various stakeholders that the leadership in Maharashtra is rather directionless and that Gadkari would have made a better CM than Devendra Fadnavis.
Some BJP leaders also hate Gadkari because he continues to be a favourite of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who would like to wish the Purti scam away as he had done before the Lok Sabha polls by ordering an internal audit that had absolved Gadkari of all blame. But Purti comes back to haunt Gadkari and he does not help his cause by his numerous and silly gaffes that make him seem less serious than Fadnavis about a development agenda.
For example, during the assembly campaign he asked the people of Vidarbha to take to violence to get statehood for their region. "Look at Telangana, how they agitated and compelled the UPA to break up Andhra Pradesh. But you guys never take to the streets. Some 50 people will demonstrate and their protest will fizzle out in half an hour. If you do not agitate how can we give you Vidarbha?"
He somehow got away with that but not with a later faux pas when he told farmers in Amravati not to depend on god or the government for their livelihood.
God, I could understand. But what about the government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide farmers with irrigation facilities to overcome the fickleness of The One Above? But now Gadkari has such wonderful advice for farmers — (presumably if the rain gods fail you) use your urine to irrigate your crops. After all, he collects his urine in cans to water organic vegetables at his Lutyens bungalow in New Delhi with remarkable results. Should the farmers take that advice seriously? Hmm...
While Gadkari, considering his penchant to put his foot in the mouth, might be dismissed as someone not to be taken seriously, I am stunned that Maharashtra’s agriculture minister Eknath Khadse, not known to be a joker, should actually go one step further and think of turning this urotherapy into government policy. Days after Gadkari’s statement he called for the government to collect urine from multiplexes in the state (there is ample supply of the liquid during intervals, he said) and use this to irrigate crops across drought-stricken areas of Maharashtra.
I do not eat radishes in Bombay because these are largely harvested from alongside the railway tracks — all Bombayites travelling early morning by suburban trains know what irrigates these radishes. Now I might have to get all my vegetable supplies from elsewhere. For otherwise, between Ajit Pawar who wanted to urinate in dams, Gadkari and Khadse, I might have to run away from Maharashtra!