Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Nitin Gadkari, BJP candidate from Nagpur constituency
Nitin Gadkari, who has earned praise from both his party BJP and the Opposition for his stint as the road transport and highways minister, is considered an undisputed leader in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha
Considered close to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the 62-year-old is said to be the nemesis for the Congress in the region, which was once a citadel of the grand old party.
In his nearly 40 years of political career Gadkari has been the national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and held five important portfolios at the Centre -- road transport, shipping, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation. He has claimed to have undertaken projects and works worth Rs 17 lakh crore during his five-year stint at the Centre.
“I love those who get things done,” is the strong message plastered on the walls of his Nagpur office.
He is called a Vikas Purush for his tenure as Maharashtra’s public works department (PWD) minister in the 1990s when the state saw an unprecedented infrastructure development during his tenure. 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 changed the face of Maharashtra.
“He used to tell the officers that never say ‘no’ to any public interest project even if it is not in the rulebook. He wanted to know how it can be done instead,” said a senior retired bureaucrat.
He has earned praise from opposition leaders like Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi even appreciated Gadkari’s work in Parliament.
His passion for development, love for the uplift of the poor and ability to deliver despite odds appeals to the grassroots workers.
“Politics must never come in the way of development. I entered politics to work for the welfare and uplift of the poor, downtrodden, exploited and wronged sections of the society,” Gadkari has said.
Gadkari is also known as a successful entrepreneur amongst his colleagues and as someone who introduced the first bio-diesel pump in the country. Apart from this, he was the first one to facilitate solar fencing. The Software Technology Park in central India is also his initiative as is the sewage water for the Power Generation project.
A string of controversies has clouded his prospects on several occasions.
Gadkari had to unceremoniously quit as the BJP national president due to the alleged corruption in his Purti Group, which has interests in sugar and power. He has denied all allegations of financial irregularities.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s praise of Gadkari as the “only one in the BJP with some guts” also created a row. The Union minister, however, had hit back at Rahul Gandhi, saying he did not need a certificate of courage from the Congress president.
Born in 1957 in a Brahmin family, Gadkari was groomed by his mother and a worker of RSS’ Rashtra Sevika Samiti Bhanutai Gadkari. He began his political career as an active member of RSS’ student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in 1977. He contested the assembly elections from West Nagpur in 1985 and lost. He was then elected to the state legislative council from the graduates’ constituency in 1989. Gadkari also served as the leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council and president of the state unit of the BJP and subsequently the national president of the party in December 2009.
Gadkari had defeated seven-time Lok Sabha member and former Union minister Vilas Muttemwar by a margin of around 300,000 votes in 2014, his first Lok Sabha election.
The BJP leader has been fielded from Nagpur Lok Sabha seat, which he has held since 2009.