By Vijay Darda | 27-05-2017
I have closely watched Gadkari for last many years. I have seen his formative years too. He is a totally transparent and honest politician, a rarity today. If he wants to appreciate someone he would do it publicly or if he is displeased with someone he would express his displeasure also publicly. If he is unhappy with someone he would take him/her to task publicly without caring for the fall-out. Gadkari often has paid heavily for this outspokenness but this very outspokenness also has brought him popularity as a politician with a clean image.
While performing in political field, Gadkari has never allowed political bitterness enter his personal life. He has never targeted his opponents taking advantage of their personal weaknesses. That is perhaps the reason several stalwarts in most political parties are his close friends. When Gadkari is in crisis, these friends also feel bad for him. There are very few examples of such friendship seen today. He has often put emphasis on using politics for social good and to create persons with social commitment. Gadkari has an uncanny knack of collecting people who perform. That is why politicians not just from BJP but other political parties also visit him often. Here I must narrate an incident. He was the national president of BJP then. I often think that politicians are bound to have difference of opinion but they should not be brought down to personal level. Politicians should have friends in all other parties.
Senior leader Sharad Pawar has friends in all political parties and he maintains these friendly relations assiduously. Gadkari is one such person who keeps aside political considerations to retain friendship. Once I fervently wished that Gadkari should meet Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi. At that time, Gadkari was not a member of either House of Parliament. He was not in touch with politicians on a regular basis. I, therefore, took the initiative and arranged a meeting of Gadkari and Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel. After that meeting, Gadkari called Sonia Gandhi to offer birthday wishes but he would not speak to her. After some time, Sonia ji returned the call and thanked Gadkari for his birthday greetings. The magnanimity of these two politicians have left a deep imprint on my mind.
Gadkari has a vision for development and once he resolves to achieve something he is obsessed with and achieves it come what may. When he was the minister for public works in Maharashtra, Gadkari completed the Mumbai-Pune Expressway within budget and shortest time. This project later proved to be a guiding light for other road construction projects. Dhirubhai Ambani’s Reliance Industries was one of the bidders and there was pressure on Gadkari to allot the work to Reliance Industries. But he did not bow to the pressure. Dhirubhai then called Gadkari and pointed out that it was not possible for a state government to complete such an ambitious project on its own. Gadkari accepted the challenge and completed the project with an outlay of Rs 1146 crore within the time frame through Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
Gadkari achieved what he had promised and seeing this Dhirubhai himself called him and invited him for tea at his residence. During the meeting, Dhirubhai profusely praised Gadkari’s organizational skills. As PWD minister Gadkari later on created a network of flyovers in the entire state and attained a sobriquet ‘Pulkari’ also. When a person is known by his projects, it is considered as the best appreciation for him. Gadkari has received such acclaim time and again through his exemplary performance.
When Atal Behari Vajpayee was the prime minister, he had assigned Gadkari the job of chairing the committee that supervised construction of East-West and North-South corridors of national highways. This was the biggest appreciation and acknowledgement for Gadkari’s performance as Maharashtra’s PWD minister. While chairing this committee Gadkari realised that bureaucracy was not allowing him to perform as per his plans. Frustrated by this, Gadkari then met the Advisor to Vajpayee Brajesh Mishra and told him that his precious time was being wasted by bureaucracy and asked to be relieved of the job. Had there been any other person, he would have stuck to the ‘lucrative assignment’ by hook or crook. But that is not the way Gadkari functions.
In 2009, Gadkari got the opportunity of working as the national president of BJP. Party workers then saw the organizational skills and leadership qualities of Gadkari. Many had expressed doubts about how a BJP leader from Nagpur would survive in the politics of Delhi. But Delhites soon realised the tenacity of this Marathi politician. Gadkari has often emphasized more on social service rather than the post he held. In 2014 also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished to allot either of the important ministries like finance, defense and home to Gadkari. Had he accepted any of these portfolios, he would have automatically become the member of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments. But Gadkari wanted to do some thing in the infrastructure sector. That is why he opted for ministry of road transport, shipping and ports. Only because of his vision now several ambitious projects have begun in these sectors. Prime Minister Modi was also ready to allot either railway or civil aviation ministry to Gadkari but it could not materialise due to internal politics. But Gadkari did not take it seriously because he is a firm believer in solid performance. Gadkari always gives importance to relations and never practices politics for political mileage. He often says that he would opt for vocation of farming but would not indulge in petty politics of self-interest.
Gadkari has been instrumental in shaping the political career of Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan Bhupendra Yadav, Union health minister Dr J P Nadda, Rajya Sabha member Ajay Sancheti and Union energy minister Piyush Goyal. He also had played a major role in inclusion of Ms Sushma Swaraj in the Modi government. In fact, Sushma ji was not ready to become a minister but Gadkari convinced her to accept the post. Now Gadkari alone is capable of playing an important role in the forthcoming Presidential election and getting elected a candidate unanimously.
Gadkari also has been instrumental in tilting the support of minorities, especially Muslims, towards BJP in Maharashtra. Only because of his all endearing nature that BJP got success in local self government bodies. He functions without considerations of caste or creed and has only one credo of social service which brings success to him. Due to his social work, Gadkari has left an imprint on the people of Nagpur and he is known as a saviour of down-trodden and deprived masses. He takes lead in every social cause and that is why Nagpurians have elected him as an MP in his very first Parliamentary election and that too with a huge margin of 2.75 lakh votes.
As Union minister for road transport, shipping and ports, Gadkari focused on regional balance in development of the country, be it Jammu and Kashmir, North-Estern states or his home city Nagpur. He always expressed displeasure over the imbalanced growth of Nagpur city and that is why he could get started so many developmental projects for Nagpur. He was instrumental in getting the Reliance ADAG’s Rs 6500 crore Greenfield aerospace park. Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani himself publicly revealed that it was only because of Gadkari that he decided to set up the project at Nagpur.
Whenever an industrialist talks of starting any venture, Gadkari promptly responds to him positively. In fact, he asks only one question to all industrialists – what can you do for Nagpur? and that amply displays his commitment for the development of Nagpur city. Gadkari often says that before inviting any industrial project in Nagpur, social infrastructure like educational facilities in the city have to be efficient. That is why he brought top national institutions like IIM, IIT, AIIMS,Symbiosis to Nagpur. Gadkari is known as a studious politician and he has been instrumental in starting efforts to make the Nagpur Metro Rail project run on non-polluting solar energy. He knows how to create wealth from waste and has initiated experimental projects like sewerage water treatment, agriculture, food processing etc in Nagpur. Along with this he also emphasizes on eco-friendly public transport system and that is why he has introduced E-rickshaw in the country.
Gadkari is a strict disciplinarian and does not even hesitate to reprimand a bureaucrat if he/she tries to put hurdle in a developmental project. We have seen him advocating public flagging of bureaucrats demanding bribe. No one can match his knack of getting work done from bureaucrats. The impact of Gadkari’s social welfare schemes also has influenced his entire family. His wife Kanchantai has devoted herself to several social projects. Usually a politician’s sons are seen trying to usurp his political legacy for themselves. But this is not the case with Gadkari. Both his sons are away from politics. In fact, Gadkari himself has not taken any initiative to draw them into political arena. “If they have guts they will join politics on their own,” Gadkarti often says. Gadkari respects only those for whom he knows thoroughly, he has never resorted to sycophancy and never allowed sycophants near him.
Since last three decades, Maharashtra is closely watching Gadkari’s whirlwind speed of developmental projects. This has also created an image of a leader who does justice to all through social service. Gadkari has always said that his life was meant for social service and he was totally committed to it. In fact he quotes the Hindi couplet, ‘Seva Hai Yagya Kund- Samidha Sam Hum Jale’ in his public speeches. That is why Gadkari is regarded by the entire society as a trail blazer who is fully transparent and incorruptible. On the occasion of his 60th birthday I wish him all the progress in his life and may god bestow on him a healthy, happy and long life and capabilities to shoulder the responsibilities of even more important positions.
The author is chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha
It is often said that politics is a dirty game and the political field is dominated by only self-interest. Those who join it usurp posts by hook or crook by using money and muscle power. The unwritten rule of this arena is to retain the acquired posts perennially to gain wealth and unmatched property for oneself. It is because of this, politics is getting stained. But there are persons, who against all these odds, have joined politics and with their clean image and performance have given a new dimension to constructive social work. At present the name of Nitin Gadkari is at the forefront of such politicians. The minister for road transport and shipping Nitin Gadkari who is known as Yaaro Ka Yaar, has an altogether different style of functioning in politics. Till now he has survived in politics by using the formula -10 per cent politics and 90 per cent social work.
Gadkari is a strict disciplinarian and does not even hesitate to reprimand a bureaucrat if he/she tries to put hurdle in a developmental project. We have seen him advocating public flagging of bureaucrats demanding bribe. No one can match his knack of getting work done from bureaucrats. The impact of Gadkari’s social welfare schemes also has influenced his entire family. His wife Kanchantai has devoted herself to several social projects. Usually a politician’s sons are seen trying to usurp his political legacy for themselves. But this is not the case with Gadkari.