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Thursday, June 23, 2011
BJP's GADKARI: Mandir Tops our agenda for UP and 2014 Elections!
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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 25, Dated 25 June 2011 / Cover Story.
The accidental antagonist
Photo: Shailendra Pandey
AT 54, Nitin Gadkari is the youngest ever BJP president. Since he took over the reins in December 2009, he has seen former chiefs Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh rendered completely powerless since relinquishing the top post after three-year terms. Perhaps that’s why he is humble with party seniors and lets his brashness manifest itself only when attacking the Congress.
Born in a Deshast Brahmin family in Nagpur and starting out as an ABVP activist like most of his party colleagues, Gadkari’s political innings started as the city president of the BJP in 1986. Little did he know that being in Nagpur, the HQ of the RSS and getting acquainted and working closely with senior Sangh leaders, would propel him to the topmost position in the party 25 years later. An RSS protege considered close to senior leaders like KS Sudarshan and Mohan Bhagwat, Gadkari’s only stint in government was in 1995, when he played second fiddle to Gopinath Munde as PWD minister in the BJP-Shiv Sena government. With the untimely death of Munde’s brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan, the former’s popularity and positioning in the party waned and Gadkari was shrewd enough to work his way up to heading the BJP in Maharashtra.
A lawyer by training and a businessman with huge stakes in the sugar industry in the state, Gadkari is a sugar baron like his contemporaries Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan.
Gadkari’s lack of acumen and political finesse has often resulted in embarrassments within the party and outside...