Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BJP's new president and competitive politics

Nitin Gadkari, the new president of BJP, has been portrayed in much of the media as somebody hand-picked by the RSS and, therefore, intended to give the RSS a better hold over the BJP. It may well be that he is the RSS's choice. But, what is ignored is that he has a great deal going for him. It was left to ET to carry a story that highlighted his strengths and accomplishments. I could not find the story in the online edition and hence am unable to provide a link.

In brief, Gadkari is credited with a great deal of modernisation that has happened in Nagpur, he was instrumental in getting the Mumbai-Pune expressway done and he was also in charge of Vajpayee's Golden Quadrilateral. The story also spoke of his performance as PWD minister when he got the state's infrastructure arm to bag projects in the face of competition from private investors and despite political pressures to favour industrial groups. The projects were executed at a much lower cost than quoted by private parties.

The media has highlighted his skills as an organiser. The ET story also mentioned that media persons found it a pleasure to meet him - and not just because he's a foodie who can serve terrific meals to his guests but because he is a man full of ideas and loves to get into intellectual exchanges.

If all this is true, then you cannot but be amazed at what has happened. The BJP has reached out beyond the Delhi coterie and brought in somebody relatively young (he's 52) and with the potential to shake up and revamp the party. This is quite an achievement when you consider how difficult it is to break into any entrenched set-up, whether the bureacracy or the corporate world or even academic institutions. It has happened in the BJP because Indian politics is extremely competitive and party workers expect to see results. If a given leadership cannot produce results, then the party dynamics contrives to bring in an outsider who can change things. The rise of Rahul in the Congress also owes to the imperative to project a new face and to come up with new ideas.

How Gadkari will perform is anybody's guess. But his rise to the top job in the BJP underlines that Indian democracy is alive and kicking.

PS: Thanks to Vishal for providing the link. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Maharashtra is strewn with Nitin Gadkari’s signature projects, almost all of them are testimony to his drive. As a former PWD minister, Mr Gadkari has shown the guts to overrule his party boss Pramod Mahajan and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, who were keen on awarding Mumbai-Pune expressway project to a certain corporate house. Fiercely committed to the state’s cause, Mr Gadkari even offered to quit the post, but refused to give theproject to the said industrial house.

In the end, he won. The private company had quoted the project cost Rs 3,100 crore. The state-run Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) — Mr Gadkari’s brainchild — completed it in just over Rs 1,600 crore. Even the currently inaugurated — though incomplete — Bandra-Worli sea link was Mr Gadkari’s idea, which he launched but could not complete because Sena-BJP failed in the 1999 state polls.

The test of his innovative skills came during 1996 when the newly formed MSRDC tried to tap the market for its various infrastructure projects. The regulator refused the state corporation permission to issue bonds since it didn’t have its own assets.

As a PWD minister, Mr Gadkari wasted no time and just in a day transferred all PWD assets in Mumbai to MSRDC. Thus came into existence a body that went on to build some 55 flyovers in Mumbai and the country’s first auto-bahn Mumai-Pune Expressway, all completed in the promised time-frame.


Vishal Naik said...

Unknown said...

This made interesting reading. I have a video of Nitin Gadkari where he shares stories of his tenure as a political leader - from a fresher until 2008. What impressed me is his philosophy which is 80% Management and 20% Politics.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it