By Namita Tewari:
KNOWN for his administrative prowess and innovative approach in addressing issues, Nitin Jairam Gadkari has been instrumental in pushing infrastructure development and reviving projects stuck for many years. The 62-year-old senior BJP leader, often dubbed as the one of the high performing ministers during the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government, is expected to be entrusted with key responsibilities in the second term too.
Gadkari on Thursday sworn in as a Cabinet Minister but his portfolio is yet to be announced. He won the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat with a margin of around 2.13 lakh votes by defeating his former party man and now Congress member Nana Patole. Whether its reviving stuck highway projects worth Rs 3.85 lakh crore or starting cargo shipments on Ganga river, Gadkari has been at the forefront of infrastructure development. Some of the key projects are Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Delhi-Meerut Expressway and Zojila tunnel. In May 2014, he took charge of the Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Ministries. He was also given charge of Water Resoruces, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry from September 3, 2017. He was also at the helm of Rural Development, and Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministries from June 4 till November 9, 2014.
Born in 1957 into a middle-class agricultural family in Nagpur, he came to the spotlight for giving his city a new face and was also known as ‘flyover man’ for building a series of flyovers in Mumbai during his stint as PWD minister in Maharashtra. Not just during the first term of Modi Government, Gadkari had played a pivotal role in the successful implementation of the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the second straight term, he had a long innings in Maharashtra politics and was also the youngest BJP President. In 2014, he was first elected to the Lower House from Nagpur, a traditional Congress stronghold, after defeating seven-time winner Vilas Mutthemwar by a margin of about 3 lakh votes. He was a member of Maharashtra Legislative Council from 1989 to 2014 and during this time, he served as PWD Minister (1995-1999) and as Maharashtra Legislative Council leader (1999 - 2005). Gadkari entered politics as a student leader of ABVP and later joined the Janta Yuva Morcha, youth wing of the BJP. The imposition of emergency by Indira Gandhi in June 1975 was a turning point in his life, following which he decided to dedicate his life to social work rather than practising law. Gadkari studied LLB, MCom and also holds a diploma in business management.
He has also penned books, including India Aspires (English), Bhavishya Ka Bharat (Hindi) and The Path of Progress (English). Among others, he played a leading role in the formation of Laxmanrao Mankar Memorial Trust and took up the work of starting of Ekal Vidyalayas in different parts of Vidarbha region. Gadkari was also instrumental in setting up the Institute of Village Enterprise Development of Handicraft Artists (VEDHA India), which is working with the bamboo workers from the bamboo producing areas.