On the outside, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first and only candidate for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with no other leader in contention. This is made even more prominent by the lack of a strong leader that ties together the opposition.
It might seem strange in these circumstances that another senior leader from within BJP might be eyeing the Prime Minister’s position in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Worry not though, it makes more sense if you see how he can achieve it.
Firstly, who is this mysterious leader that is working behind the scenes to get his name on the candidate list? It is none other than our Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.
Shocked? You won’t be after reading through our reasons why his rise might be possible in the country’s ever changing political battlefield.
Nitin Jairam Gadkari is known for being a no-nonsense businessman-politician who has received a lot of appreciation for the work done under him in his Ministry. He has a strong RSS background with his constituency being Nagpur, the city where the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) held its first shakha in 1925.
Gadkari had his first major assignment as the Minister of Public Works Department(PWD) of the Government of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 where he restructured the organization from top to bottom. Being a businessman, he strongly supported privatization and started to build his current reputation of a politician that ‘fulfills his promises through his work’. In the current times, Gadkari’s ministry is known to have spearheaded many schemes, making is the most productive ministry by many standards. This combined with no allegations of any scams has led to a meteoric rise in his reputation among people. Still, Gadkari is not a leader with a base as big as Modi or even many opposition leaders so how does he get into the Prime Ministerial Race?
The answer lies in Gadkari’s mindset as a businessman-politician that lets him forego many bounds faced by other leaders that are restricted in their relationships because of their ideology or personal enmities. He is known to be close to many leaders from opposition parties including Sharad Pawar and Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee among many more. This unique position lets him be in a unique position for the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls that pushes him in PM race with the question, What if BJP does not get a clear majority?
Fun Fact: The 2014 election was Gadkari’s first direct election in his 4 decade long political career which he won by an enormous margin of nearly 2,85,000. This was also in a constituency where PM Modi had not campaigned for the 2014 election.
Many Political Analysts have predicted a hung verdict in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections with BJP still having the major seat share. This would lead to the BJP requiring external support from opposition parties. As loved as our PM Modi is by the people, opposition leaders have had the ‘Modi Hatao'(Remove Modi) motto since he came to power in the centre. In this scenario, opposition parties would not agree to Modi as Prime Minister and may offer support only on the condition of another candidate becoming the Prime Minister.
So why is it that we believe that person is Nitin Gadkari? Why not anyone else with friends in opposition parties? The answer to this lies in some recent events that looked at individually might not look significant but together start to paint a clear picture.
“political leaders, who do not fulfill the dreams they peddle, will get thrashed by people”.
These events started with Gadkari’s repeated public comments that were seen as jabs against his own party, BJP. From the comment that “political leaders, who do not fulfill the dreams they peddle, will get thrashed by people”. Even going on to add that he was not among those who only show dreams, he does everything as promised. To saying that the leadership must own up to defeat after the BJP lost in three Hindi States. He has been getting more open about his disapproval for the way BJP is currently being run by its leadership. This disapproval through short comments in his public appearances is also followed by open praise by many opposition leaders.
“one who cannot take care of home, cannot manage the country”
The latest of this praise came from Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Gadkari had earlier remarked at a gathering of former ABVP workers that “one who cannot take care of home, cannot manage the country” to which Rahul Gandhi replied on twitter that he has guts and should also comment on the Rafale deal, farmers distress and destruction of institutions.
This was followed a few days later with Sonia Gandhi thumping the desk in the Lok Sabha in a rare sight as Gadkari finished answering questions pertaining to his Ministry.
This combined with unconfirmed rumors of a rift between the leadership and Gadkari since non renewal of his BJP President term and passing him as the Chief Minister candidate for Maharashtra in 2014 has led to many political analysts including us to believe that he will be a candidate for BJP in case the party falls short of the majority. This is also reaffirmed by his close links with the RSS.
Note: This article is an opinion and as such delves deeper to not only state the facts but also look at it from a political analyst’s lens.