The Economic Times
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Time for Nitin Gadkari to end regal detachment from tough issues

Be it his stand on reforms or fighting his party's battles, Nitin Gadkari has maintained a regal detachment from tough issues.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 07, 2012, 06.56 AM IST
It is time Nitin Gadkari ends his regal detachment from tough issues
Be it his stand on reforms or fighting his party's battles, the BJP chief has maintained a regal detachment from tough issues. It's time he ends the ambiguous act.

In the eternal Delhi versus Mumbai debate, Mumbaikars always state with great pride that anyone who has ever lived in the more cosmopolitan environs of their Maximum City can never quite settle down in the Punjabi baroque air of Delhi.

This holds true for Mumbai politicians as well as the hoi polloi. From Sharad Pawar who was routinely checkmated by Delhi-based Congress office bearers to Vilasrao Deshmukh who had to bow to Delhi's wishes, with the result that he was a minister who spent most of his time in Mumbai, the Capital was never a happy place.

When BJP president Nitin Gadkari came to Delhi, he had similar apprehensions. Gadkari had never lived in Delhi, was a member of the upper house of the state legislature and had always been under the shadow of the Pramod Mahajan-Gopinath Munde team in Maharashtra politics.

A Deshastha Brahmin from Nagpur, the young Gadkari had been orphaned early in life but found a family in the RSS, headquartered close to his house in Gadkariwada in the city. In his own words, he "began political life painting posters for the BJP and ended up as president of the party". He is a details man to the core.

When the Nagpur press club asked him for funds to raise a new building, he expressed his inability to help; instead he told the astonished group of journalists that they should use at least 20% of the land for commercial purposes to bankroll the actual building. His homespun advice on business is, needless to say, a little wasted on the BJP still hunting for the next big idea in politics. The RSS, however, thought him perfect to be a kind of chief operating officer, leaving the ideating to itself.

At his arrival in Delhi, he was faced with a strong phalanx of north Indian 'national' leaders with entrenched interests, coteries and egos the size of Delhi farmhouses and a notoriously hostile media.

Gadkari went for what one BJP leader termed the "shock and awe treatment". "He did everything differently, picked a younger lot of people, never overtly or covertly defied the RSS, and called meetings in line with the Delhi-Nagpur flight schedule," he added. The last bit is particularly interesting as the BJP was very much a 'daylight' party, which believes in vichaar (thinking) and vishram (rest, including a post prandial snooze) with equal devotion.

Midnight meetings a la Congress were soon being held, until Delhi leaders cried uncle. After one particularly gruelling late night meeting, the then Bihar BJP president CP Thakur declared that he would rather quit than attend another such meeting.


Gadkari also spoke the language of business, once striking senior leaders LK Advani and Arun Jaitley dumb during a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the question of fuel prices. Gadkari waxed eloquent on ethanol and his factory near Nagpur as the rest of them looked on. The PM, it is said, showed "polite interest." Gadkari was determined not to let Delhi's palace intrigues get him as they had done with many regional leaders in the past.


What he hasn't realised yet is that his problems don't accrue from Delhi leaders. After a period of calibrated watching, the formidable second generation of the party came to terms with Gadkari. A core group of Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh silently came together over important issues.

Over the last year or so, however, his name has been closely associated with BJP MP Ajay Sancheti who is alleged to have profited in the coal block allocation scam.

While Gadkari has taken senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh to court for defamation for associating him with Sancheti's business dealings, the talk has damaged him. Gadkari's businesslike reputation as the man who delivered the Mumbai-Pune highway during the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra has taken a hit.


The BJP amended its constitution to allow a second consecutive term for a party president, clearly aimed at the continuation of Gadkari after he completes his term in December. Supposed to be a happy occasion for his team, it was marred by his presence in court over the next couple of days with his lawyer Pinky Anand, determined to spare his reputation the defamatory talk of scams.

"I have no business relations or business associations - direct or indirect - with Ajay Sancheti or his companies," he said in his statement in court. His troubles, such as they are, resulted in the party's agenda being run by other senior leaders.

The party opposed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, despite Gadkari's statement that he favoured "creating an environment favourable for investors" and his own entrepreneurial instincts. For the entire Winter Session of Parliament, when the party took on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the coal block allocation issue, Gadkari was either in Mumbai or away in far away Canada on vacation.


Is it a sign of being in denial? A comment he made on his weight for which he undertook a gastric bypass, is telling. "I always used to think that my weight wasn't too much, and I still think the same - just like every person thinks of himself as a hero, just like a bald fellow also combs his pate. In politics, not many speak the truth on your face, but we need to see reality and work for the betterment of society."

Time to take his own advice, then.

Also Read

No hesitation in removing non-performing officers: Nitin Gadkari

Will stick to EPC in road projects for now: Nitin Gadkari

Possibility of re-tender for Nagpur airport: Nitin Gadkari

CAA not against Muslim community of India: Nitin Gadkari

Is Nitin Gadkari being sidelined by BJP?

Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.

Other useful Links

Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service