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Modi 3.0: Nitin Gadkari claims his domain for the third straight time

Only minister in Modi cabinet with 10+ years in the same ministry

Nitin Gadkari, Nitin, Gadkari

His aspiration is for India to develop 18,000 km of highways every year or 50 km a day. It stands at around 35 km a day

Dhruvaksh Saha New Delhi

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Nitin Gadkari has retained his position as Union minister for road transport and highways in the National Democratic Alliance’s third term and stands as the only minister in the cabinet to have had his portfolio for more than years.

Known for being a grassroots leader, the Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweight has spent his weeks over the past 10 years working at his office on weekdays and flying home to Nagpur every Friday for community work at his constituency.

He retained his constituency with a margin of over 130,000 votes in the Lok Sabha elections. Known as an ideological loyalist, he began his political journey working very closely with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Before becoming a Union minister, he served as minister of public works in the Maharashtra government and was also the BJP’s president between 2009 and 2013.

He’s best known for rapidly increasing the network of expressways in India and playing a role in connecting hinterlands with national highways. In 2020-21, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways nearly reached 40 km of highway construction every day.
His aspiration is for India to develop 18,000 km of highways every year or 50 km a day. It stands at around 35 km a day.

This, however, has not been without controversy. In 2023, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India flagged major cost escalations in projects under the ministry’s Bharatmala programme, with costs reaching as high as Rs 250 crore per km.

With his work in promoting biofuels in road transport, he has been one of the most vocal advocates in this government of the idea that farmers should be helped to diversify from being “annadaatas” to “urjadaatas” – something he credits to his background in the Vidarbha region, where farmers have historically suffered.

Before the Lok Sabha elections, his ministry was working on a Rs 20 trillion highway proposal based on the Centre’s Vision 2047 document, which will be the first order of business when he assumes office on Tuesday.

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First Published: Jun 10 2024 | 9:02 PM IST

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