Gadkari began his political career as an active member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidarthi Parishad (ABVP) in 1977.
He contested the assembly elections from West Nagpur in 1985 and suffered a humiliating defeat.
He was, however, elected to the legislative council from the graduate constituency in 1989. He became the Maharashtra minister for PWD in 1995 when the Sena-BJP came in power.
He also served as the leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council and was serving as the state party chief from November 2004 to December 2009.
The Maharashtra Deshastha Bramhin is also considered as a “pragmatic” politician and hence his works never suffered despite being in the opposition, thanks to his good rapport with senior leaders within the ruling Congress and NCP. Gadkari, was appointed BJP chief in December 2009.
RSS bigwigs particularly Mohan Bhagwat and Manmohan Vaidya, backed him for his work as a PWD minister in Maharashtra in late 90s.
But many questioned his experience at the national level. A northern lobby within the party, was hostile to Gadkari’s selection.