Nitin Gadkari was born in Nagpur, India on 27 May 1957. He is an Indian politician and the current Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping. Gadkari earlier served as the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party from 2010-2013. He is also known for the works during his tenure as a Public Works Department Minister in the state of Maharashtra when he constructed a series of roads, highways and flyovers across the state including the Yashwantrao Chavan Mumbai–Pune Expressway.
During his teens, he worked for the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and the student union Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. He completed M.Com. & L.L.B. from University of Nagpur. Gadkari is married to Kanchan Gadkari and they have three children.
Nitin Gadkari served as the Minister of Public Works Department (PWD) of the Government of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 and restructured it from top to bottom. He has served as the president of the Maharashtra BJP.
Gadkari strongly supported privatisation while he campaigned for investments in infrastructure from private firms. He addressed several meetings between private investors, contractors, builders and various trade organisations and diverted large amounts of budgeted projects towards privatisation. He managed to convince the state to allocate Rs. 7 billion for rural connectivity. In the next 4 years, 98% of the total population of Maharashtra achieved an all-weather road connectivity. The project aimed to connect 13,736 remote villages which remained unconnected since independence by road. It also helped to solve the malnutrition problems prevailing in remote Melghat-Dharni area of Amravati district which previously had no access to medical aid, ration or educational facilities.
The Union Government appointed him as the Chairman of National Rural Road Development Committee. After a series of meetings and studies, Gadkari submitted his report to the central government and gave the presentation to the Hon. Prime Minister of India. His new report was accepted and a new rural road connecting scheme now popularly known as Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched. The ambitious scheme is of Rs. 600 billion.
Just before the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Election Commission of India on 6 October 2014 issued a show cause notice to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for “statements to the effect of inducing the voters to take bribe” during campaigning in Maharashtra assembly polls. According to the English translation of the speech made by the former BJP president in Marathi, he had allegedly said: “Now, I am watching your faces and I have some skill of predicting the future by way of face reading. You have an opportunity of “Laxmi darshan” in next 10 days. Special people to get foreign brand and ordinary people to get local brand. All are Gandhivadis asking for Rs 5000. In these days of inflation, keep one thing in mind, eat what you wish and drink what you desire. Keep whatever you get. This is the time when illegally earned money can go to poor. Therefore, do not say no to Laxmi. But think while you vote. Your vote should be for the development of Maharashtra.”
The Election Commission said his statement amounts to “abetting and promoting the electoral offence of bribery” within the meaning of Section 171 B read with Section 171 E of the IPC as it includes offering food, drink or entertainment.
As PWD Minister of Maharashtra, Gadkari played a crucial rule in expediting the construction of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and having it built in a little over 2 years.
The idea to build a road which takes travel between Mumbai and Pune to less than 3 hours was first conceived by Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray.
In 1990, the Government of Maharashtra appointed the RITES Limited and Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick companies to carry out feasibility studies for the new expressway to be operated on a toll basis. RITES submitted their report in 1994 with the estimated cost of project at ₹11.46 billion (US$170 million).
However, It was only after Gadkari took over as PWD Minister that the construction of this project was fast-tracked. Gadkari entrusted the work of the construction of Mumbai-Pune expressway to MSRDC in March 1997 on Build-Operate-Transfer basis with permission to collect toll for 30 years. The environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India was received on 13 October 1997. The Forest Clearance was received on 11 November 1997.
The tender notice was published in leading newspapers all over India and also on the Internet. Due to the wide publicity, 133 tenders were sold and on 18 December 1997, 55 tenders were received. After technical and financial evaluation, tenders were accepted and work orders were given on 1 January 1998 to four contractors. Thereafter tenders for widening of the Khandala and Lonavala-Khandala bypass works were invited. The tenders were received on 24 August 1998 and orders were issued on 4 September 1998.
The first sections of the Expressway opened in 2000, and the entire route was completed, opened to traffic and made fully operational from April 2002.
The other major achievement of Gadkari as state minister was the construction of 55 flyovers in Mumbai, which eased the city traffic problems significantly.
Gadkari was appointed president of the BJP in December 2009. This was considering a tough phase for the BJP as the party had lost two successive Lok Sabha elections and needed a quick revamp.
As party president, right from the start, Gadkari made his agenda very clear. He focused almost entirely on the ‘politics of development’. In his book, “India Aspires” co-authored with leading Indian author Tuhin Sinha, Gadkari spells out his development ideas for the country in great detail. Increased institutional support to green energy, alternate fuel and effective waste management hold special importance in Gadkari’s development plan. At a time when the country was plagued with the problem of policy paralysis under the UPA, Gadkari’s proactive approach towards development, set a new and positive agenda for the country’s politics.
As party president, Gadkari, re-emphasized on legendary Jan Sangh leader Deen Dayal Upadhya’s principles of Integrated Humanism and Antodaya. At the same time, various cells were constituted within the party to regularly monitor the develop work undertaken by various BJP state governments and to come up with new policy inputs.
Gadkari resigned as party president in January 2013.
Gadkari contested 2014 Loksabha election successfully from Nagpur constituency and won. He defeated Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar by margin of 285,000.
Nitin Gadkari does not consider himself as a career politician.
Gadkari is also an agriculturist. He has not only promoted but also has major interests in the fields of Water Management, Solar Energy Projects and the use of modern tools in agriculture. Recently, he started exporting fruits to various countries under the banner Ketaki overseas Trading Company.
In Total 17 Sugar Plants were started in Vidarbha regions, and a Sugar plant is considered to be the best industry in terms of local economic development (that is the reason why the district with highest per capita income is Solapur with the 17 sugar industries). However Vidarbha now has just three plants functioning and all of those three plants are of Purti group. A Sugar Factory is not a profitable industry, but it is a major step to boost the local economy where the cash directly rises in the hand of the farmer. Sugar cane produces bagasse and molasses – where bagasse is used for power production and molasses is used for Alcohol production, while the other waste products produce bio fertilizers. Purti group has brought enormous development in the catchment area. The whole thing started with a genius idea of Social entrepreneurship, Co-operative general stores (Purti Super Bazaar) is just an example. Purti group also carried out many social welfare projects such as making 100+ villages self-sufficient by solar energy in Melghat region of Vidarbha (which is the most under developed region), 2000+ Heart surgeries, assisting locals with Solar Rickshaws and much more.
Nitin Gadkari floated the Purti Power and Sugar Ltd (now Purti Group) in 1995, when he started as PWD minister in Maharashtra. In 2012, after the companies came into the media glare based on irregularities unearthed by RTI activist Anjali Damania, the Income Tax department investigated a number of firms that had invested in Purti, and found more than a dozen of these to be bogus addresses. Another three investing firms were found co-located with the Somani Group, but no one knew of these firms.
In 2010, when the Purti group had incurred losses of Rs. 640 million, the firm IRB, which had obtained hefty road contracts under Gadkari’s term as PWD minister, loaned the group Rs. 1.64 billion, which was higher than Purthi’s turnover of Rs. 1.45 billion. When questioned on Marathi channel IBN-Lokmat, about why he did not avail a loan from banks, Gadkari explained that the balance sheets of the company were not in a suitable state, so he had requested his friend Dattatray to help him out. Also, Gadkari’s son Nikhil was allegedly a director with IRB at the time. Gadkari argued that there was nothing wrong in having contractors invest in one’s firms, but opposition leaders have argued that all this suggests a quid pro quo for political favours granted by Gadkari.
The news of these allegations broke a few months before Gadkari was to seek re-election as president of the BJP. At the time, Gadkari was to address several rallies for the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly election, 2012. India Today reported that BJP leader Shanta Kumar had suggested that Gadkari’s presence was “affecting BJP’s anti-corruption campaign. Subsequently, Gadkari cancelled his scheduled rallies at Bilaspur and Solan on 30 October.
In early 2013, in the elections for BJP president, for which Gadkari was “close to clinching a second innings” his chances unravelled with several senior leaders suggesting that the I-T indictment of the Purti groups investments had damaged his image, and Gadkari was not re-elected. Gadkari told the Times of India that he was stepping down until the inquiry proved him innocent. Some RSS functionaries have suggested that his exit was the result of infighting. Subsequently, Gadkari threatened the I-T officers, saying “when our party comes to power, there would be no Chidambaram or Sonia to save them(IT officials)”. The I-T officers association took umbrage at these remarks and demanded an apology.
Eventually, in May 2013, the Income Tax department assessed that Gadkari’s firms had evaded Rs. 70 million via such benami investments and other practices. On April 30, 2014, the Congress union Minister Manish Tewari apologised to Nitin Gadkari when he was dragged in to a defamation suit by the latter. This apology was based on the judicial commission mention that Gadkari had played no role or had no concern with the scam. On May 13, 2014 the IT department of Maharashtra cleared Nitin Gadkari’s name and gave him a clean chit saying there is no enquiry/investigation presently pending.
He took up the target of completing the “Sagari Marg” which was a long awaited dream of the people of Konkan region. During the four years of his regime, this dream became true and Konkan got the link of “Sagari Marg” barring two large bridges in the sea creek.
Along with the historic victory of the BJP in the General elections of 2014, a new dawn of hope, positivity and performance appeared on the nation’s horizon. Shri Nitin Gadkari was entrusted the responsibility of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping on 26th May 2014. Shri Nitin Gadkari as per his nature accepted the challenge and started work from the very first day. In the short span of one year he steered the ministry to achieve many feats. One of the major achievements was the mitigation of the hardships of the road users in terms of discontinuation of the fee collection on 62 Toll Plazas, creation of National Highway Toll Information System, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System, CCTV Surveillance System, Automated Camera based Driving Test System, Cashless Treatment for Road Accident Victim, Wayside Amenities along National Highways, Security of Women in Public Road Transport, Integrated Vehicle Registration & Driving License System, etc.
Apart from these initiatives he also initiated the INAM-PRO Platform for Infrastructure and Material Providers for the Highway Sector & the National Highway Development Project, Electronic Rickshaw & International Cooperation in Road Transport.
In terms of Shipping Sector he initiated steps like the simplification of procedures to determine light dues for container ships by Director General Lighthouses & Lightships, Technology Tie-Ups for constructing Dredgers, Grant of Tax Incentives to Maritime Sector and Removal of other Statutory Hurdles which will go a long way in the process of growth of the shipping sector. With respect to the Port Sector it is a noteworthy achievement that the Cargo Growth rate has doubled and efficiency improvement tools like ERP, etc are being implemented.
Shri Nitin Gadkari has also initiated several new projects like the Sagarmala Project, Coastal Berths, Improving Port Connectivity, Incentives to make Major Ports Green, SEZ at JNPT, Green Channel clearance for Coastal Cargo, New Major Ports, Oil Pollution Cess, etc.
Some of the unique achievements of the Ministry under his able guidance include the successful evacuation of Indians from Yemen, Transportation of Coal through the Ganga and promotion to Inland Water Transport.
Nagpur is being looked upon as one of the emerging super cities in the country. With the rising level of economic activity in the city the expectations of the locals are also very high. Shri Nitin Gadkari has been instrumental in the development of not only the city but also the entire region. Within one year after registering a record victory in the general elections of 2014 Shri Nitin Gadkari initiated immediate action for the development of the city & the region.
Shri Nitin Gadkar took over the responsibility as the 13th President of the Bhartiya Janata Party on 19th December 2009. He was also the youngest person to be the National President of the party. Apart from the regular responsibilities as a Party President Shri Nitin Gadkari, extensively travelled across the country and led an attack on the then UPA government with respect to the issues like inflation, corruption and scams of the UPA government. He also introduced a systematic training program for the cadre of the party. His tenure as the Party President is seen as a one of the most successful tenures.