In recent years, Nitin Gadkari, the union cabinet minister for roads, has been on the rise. From the relative obscurity of the Maharashtra legislative council, Gadkari won a parliamentary election from Maharashtra’s Nagpur constituency in 2014, which is also home to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s headquarters. He subsequently became the prime minister Narendra Modi’s transport tsar, consolidating most ministerial portfolios pertaining to the field.
For the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the Bharatiya Janata Party has again fielded Gadkari as its candidate from the Nagpur constituency. In “Son of The Sangh,” the cover story from The Caravan’s April 2018 issue, Praveen Donthi found that Gadkari is the RSS’s “favourite son.” This has caused considerable friction with the prime minister, who is known for not abiding parallel power structures.
The following excerpt from Donthi’s story chronicles how Modi stalled both his aspirations to become the chief minister of Maharashtra, as well as his ambitions to reap political capital from his important portfolios. He also reported how Gadkari is one of the only members of the union cabinet who does not fear the wrath of the prime minister, and hopes to succeed him once Modi mania fades away.