Nitin Gadkari takes over as BJP president

via Kumar Uttam | New Delhi - Daily Pioneer published on December 19, 2009

Nitin Gadkari finally made it to the top spot in the country’s main opposition party. On Saturday, he took over as BJP president from veteran Rajnath Singh. His appointment came into force with immediate effect as Rajnath resigned the same day.

The name of Gadkari (52), Maharashtra BJP chief, as successor to Rajnath was doing the rounds ever since RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat dropped hints that next president of the party has to be a young and low-profile man from outside Delhi circle.

“It is the biggest responsibility for a common party worker who used to put up party posters on walls. I know I am junior to most of you. But let me assure you that I would not do anything for which you will feel ashamed. I need your support and guidance,” Gadkari told party leaders at the BJP headquarters here.

The newly appointed president also took a dig at the Nehru-Gandhi family of the Congress saying it can happen only in BJP that a grassroots worker like him gets elected for the top job. “In Congress, leaders are prepared from the womb of a leader,” he said.

He also requested the present setup of BJP office-bearers to help him in his new assignment as the “process of appointing a new set of office-bearers will take some time.” Team Gadkari is likely to take charge within weeks of the formal ratification of his election by party’s national council, whose meeting is expected anytime after mid-January.

Incidentally, Gadkari’s elevation as national president came despite the recent debacle in the Assembly elections in Maharashtra. He is considered an organisation man, a hard taskmaster, favourite of the RSS and above all a leader who is readily available to party workers.

His performance as PWD Minister in the BJP-Shiv Sena Government in Maharashtra is widely remembered for path-breaking initiatives in infrastructure development. “Gadkari’s name is synonyms with Mumbai-Puna Expressway. His tenure as Minister is widely remembered. He is a popular man,” BJP Chief Mentor LK Advani told reporters here.

Earlier, the parliamentary board of the BJP met at the party headquarters and unanimously decided to elect him the next party president. Outgoing chief Rajnath Singh desired that Gadkari should take charge with immediate effect and everybody agreed to it.

The board also placed on records its appreciation and gratitude to Rajnath for the leadership provided by him to the party during his tenure as president. “Rajnath Singh led the party during a very challenging period. He devoted himself to the ideological and organisational cause of the party. The BJP Parliamentary Board wishes him the very best in future and is confident that his services will be fully available to the party,” a resolution passed by the board reads.

Rajnath said the Parliamentary Board members and State units were of the view that Gadkari was an able worker who could be entrusted with the responsibility.

“Change is a natural process,” the outgoing party chief said, adding the handover of baton reflected that BJP was a progressive party. As a first step in this direction, he added, Advani stepped down as the Leader of Opposition on Thursday paving way for Sushma Swaraj to don the mantle.

Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu sought to dismiss speculation that RSS had forced Gadkari on the party and said it was LK Advani who proposed the name of Maharashtra BJP chief for this job.

Naidu backed Gadkari’s elevation saying he was the best among the available leaders when senior like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj went on the become the leaders of the party in Parliament.

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