Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari is preparing himself to consolidate his position in the national politicis, as he plans to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from his native Nagpur, which is also the headquarters of the RSS of which the 54-year-old leader is a member.
In that case, it will be for the first time that Gadkari, who holds a doctorate in law and runs a sugar mill and co-generation power plant near Nagpur, would face the electorate directly. He has been a minister in the Maharasthra government for four eyars from 1995, but that was after getting elected to the the upper house of the state legislature.
Of late, a section of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is projecting Gadkari as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the next parliamentary polls. This, amid divisions with the party leadership and rank over the name for the post: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, MPs Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, among others.
Gadkari, who was chosen by the RSS to lead the BJP in December 2009 after its successive defeats in the parliamentary polls, has already indicated to the party members his desire to get himself elected to the Lok Sabha from Nagpur in the next general elections. That would not be too easy, as Nagpur is currently held by the Congress. Year 1996 was the last when a BJP candidate won the Lok Sabha seat from this constituency.
A senior BJP member with the party’s national executive claimed on Sunday that Gadkari had succeeded in getting hold over the functioning of the party organisation. “The strong support from RSS has helped him achieve it,” he told Business Standard. “Despite factions within the BJP, Gadkari was able to rejuvenate party organisation especially by effectively taking up issues of corruption, price rise and criminalisation of politics.”
Gadkari has been keen in pursuing the party’s development agenda in the BJP-ruled states, he added.
A senior RSS office-bearer, who regularly interacts with the BJP’s state unit, said Gadkari has managed to fight groupism even as he was opposed to the culture of appeasement.
A Congress leader, who is his party’s national executive member, downplayed Gadkari’s proposed plan to contest from Nagpur in the general elections. “We have faced several challenges in the past and won this seat. The party is prepared to face similar challenge yet again,” he said.