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Nitin Gadkari’s family name means “keeper of forts”. The 56-year-old Gadkari’s organisational skills and political acumen have played a key role in the BJP putting on him the responsibility of preserving its citadel in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Gadkari contested the Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur against Congress sitting candidate Vilas Muttemwar and AAP’s Anjali Damania, and emerged victorious.
Hailing from Nagpur, Gadkari’s house in Nagpur’s Mahal area is a stone throw away from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s headquarters. Three generations of Gadkari’s family have had close connections with the RSS. Gadkari was initiated into politics, as many BJP leaders are, through the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad in Nagpur University.
Even though Nagpur University was seen as a stronghold of the Congress Party’s National Students Union of India, Gadkari is said to have made his mark in the political scene during his student days. Gadkari a Masters in Commerce who subsequently completed his law degree made his transition to state politics aftera stint as Nagpur’s mayor. In 1989, Gadkari got elected as an MLC from the Nagpur’s graduate constituency.
He had been an MLC for five terms but has never fought an Assembly election. Gadkari who had a stint as Maharashtra’s PWD minister played a key role in helping solve Mumbai’s traffic woes by initiating the 55-flyover project and was instrumental in changing the Mumbai Pune Highway by constructing the Mumbai Pune Expressway.
His clean image was one of the major reasons for his promotion by the RSS as BJP National President. He also has a well spread out business including sakes in power, sugar, dairies, PVC pipe making and exporting. He, however, had to give up as the BJP president over allegations of dubious investments in Purti Group which is owned by him. However, he has termed the charges “baseless”.
His rivalry with BJP leader Gopinath Munde for dominance over the state is also well known. However, both seemed to have smoked the peace pipe with Munde being supposedly given a free run in the state while Gadkari concentrates on national politics.