NAGPUR: BJP national president Nitin Gadkari has finally made up his mind to contest Lok Sabha elections. Often ridiculed by his political rivals within and outside the BJP for not being a 'mass leader', Gadkari for the first time, declared before the media in Mumbai that he was game to contest 2014 general elections. However, as of now he's not saying anything about harbouring prime ministerial ambitions.
"I will contest Lok Sabha elections and would like to get elected from among the people," Gadkari was quoted by a news agency having said at a Diwali get-together hosted by him in Mumbai on Saturday. His personal staff confirmed the statement to TOI.
All through his near three-decade political career, Gadkari has ventured no further than the Maharashtra Legislative Council. For four consecutive terms he successfully contested from the minuscule and low profile 'constituency of teachers' from Nagpur division.
But the fact that he could never win a direct poll even to the state assembly went against him. Much to his consternation, Gopinath Munde, his bete noire in the party, is seen as a mass leader. In 1985, Gadkari did contest against Congress' Gev Awari, a Parsee, from West Nagpur assembly seat, but lost by 24,000 votes.
To his credit, Gadkari performed splendidly as the PWD minister during the only Shiv Sena-BJP regime in Maharashtra from 1995 to 99. He earned the reputation of an able administrator by corporatizing the road building arm of the state. He used it do construct the Mumbai-Pune express highway and 55 flyovers in the state capital.
Gadkari's political fortunes changed after being appointed as the party's national president. His deep roots and faith in RSS is believed to have been instrumental for this out-of-turn promotion. Last month when the RSS put its foot down and told veteran LK Advani, who is on a national rath yatra, to keep out of the PM race, Gadkari's chances for the country's top post got a big boost. With the RSS too emphasizing on youth, Gadkari has age on his side. While Advani is 84, Gadkari is 30 years younger than him.
There was speculation for more than a year that Gadkari was getting ready for the big poll fight. A year ago when he turned his son's marriage ceremony into a lavish mega public event, it was seen as part of his electoral plans. Recently at a public function, when RPI leader Ramdas Athavale said in his jocular style that Gadkari could be contesting from Nagpur, Gadkari, who was present on the dais, only smiled in silent approval.
While his hometown Nagpur would be the most obvious choice of seat, some Congress leaders still believe that the seat being a Congress stronghold (with only one loss in 14 elections), Gadkari may opt for a much safer Chandrapur or Wardha in Vidarbha or Indore in Madhya Pradesh. But there is a strong view that he may bet on Nagpur, hoping that sitting and four-time MP and AICC general secretary Vilas Muttemwar may be hit by the anti-incumbency factor.
For updates you can share with your friends, follow JHnews.co.in on facebookNews Source: TOI Jharkhand: 2011-10-23