Has Gadkari thrown his hat into the ring?

Updated: Dec 24, 2018, 07:31 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Union minister's remark leaves door open to the idea that senior leaders like him will not remain silent any longer, when resentment reaches an alarming level

Dharmendra JoreNitin Gadkari, BJP's former national president, has spoken his mind yet again. Known for his bluntness, fearlessness and aggression, he has said from a public platform what others in the party are saying in a hush-hush manner, after its defeat in the three states of the Hindi-speaking belt. Gadkari said he expects political leaderships to own up to failures as much as success.

His statement is seen as an indicator of what is brewing in the BJP after the downfall in the regions. By choosing to speak up loud and clear, has Gadkari thrown his hat into the ring? Does it mean that he is emerging as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in case the situation arising out of Lok Sabha poll results demands so? Many in the BJP believe that it is the right time for them to project Gadkari as the next big thing. Gadkari's supporters rely on his superior skills in building bridges with estranged people within and outside the BJP, who have been feeling that the current leadership has treated them badly.

Be responsible in failure too
Not all ministers or leaders in the BJP are as empowered as the union minister when it comes to expressing their views. He addressed a gathering of successful small-time bankers of Pune district on Saturday, telling them how a responsible leadership makes a difference. Gadkari said the leadership that has ability to own up to failures proved the leaders' sense of attachment with the institution that they work for. "Success has many takers, but failure is disowned by all. It happens in banking as well as in politics. When failure hits politics, a committee is formed to look into it. When we ask a defeated candidate, he says he didn't get a rally of big leaders and enough funds.

He gives innumerable reasons," said Gadkari, adding that the institute might have hundreds of good people but just a few ill-minded people could damage it. Clarifying a day after the event, Gadkari said his statements were twisted by a section of media. He saw a sinister campaign by the opposition and detractors. "Let me clear once and for all that conspiracies to drive a wedge between me and BJP leadership will never succeed," he tweeted. Post-2014 win, Gadkari was inducted as a minister who is said to have handled the most powerful duo of Modi and Amit Shah in a way that didn't do much harm to either side. As demanded, Gadkari was given a free hand in his departments. People say he hasn't stepped back an inch.

He had admitted in a TV show that his party had made so many poll promises because they never thought they would come to power. He has reprimanded bureaucrats using expressions and metaphors that no politician would ever dare utter from a public platform. Gadkari stands out, also for delivering good work such as roads, bridges and ports. His successes, failures and controversies have been debated. And yet, Gadkari remains one of the most popular personalities in the national political scene.

Summer salt
In Gadkari's run-up to the Lok Sabha polls and plan of becoming the PM, if any, the number of MPs that Maharashtra elects for the BJP (and also the Shiv Sena), would be added strength. The Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and other non-BJP parties are bullish in view of the changing sentiments and a dip in BJP's confidence.
Political forecasts say the NDA partners are unlikely to retain the 2014 numbers, even if they contest the polls together. The Sena is prepared to put as many hurdles as possible in the BJP's path, and should concede only when the bargain falls in its favour. Gadkari may have to step in to resolve the imbroglio.

The forthcoming summer should prove which politician is worth his salt.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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