The Able Tactician
It’s almost cinematic in its irony and drama.
When he started his political career as a grassroots worker for the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, India’s main Opposition party, Nitin Gadkari often had the job of laying out red carpets — literally — prior to events that included senior party functionaries.Today, as president of the BJP, the red carpet is his by default.
His political leanings didn’t prevent him acquiring an extensive education — he holds a Diploma in Business Management, apart from a law degree and a Master’s in Commerce, all acquired in his hometown of Nagpur. Ironically again, while he is one of the best-known political faces in the country thanks to his position as the head of the BJP, it is for his governance in Maharashtra that he is most deservedly known.
As Cabinet Minister of Public Works in Maharashtra between 1995-99, he was the moving force behind the construction of over 55 flyovers in Mumbai alone, aimed at easing traffic challenges in the city, apart from constructing the magnificent Mumbai-Pune Expressway, that cut down travel time between the two cities by half. He took on the challenge of connecting over 13,000 villages in Maharashtra to each other by road, and when the money wasn’t available through government funding, he persuaded NABARD to extend a soft loan of 700 crore for rural connectivity.
In policy terms, he is widely credited with introducing the concept of Public-Private Partnership in infrastructure development, clearing the way for the Build-Operate-Transfer model on which a significant portion of infrastructure projects are based today.