Politics as powerplay
Senior central minister Nitin Gadkari is feeling uncomfortable in the government. Politics, he says, has become cent per cent sattakaran (powerplay). At an event in his home-turf of Nagpur, Gadkari said he’s thinking a lot as to when he should quit politics. This sounds odd. At age 65, Gadkari is not only young but he has always been highly energetic and hyper-active when it comes to handling assignments – be it as BJP president since 2010 or previously as a state minister in Maharashtra or as Union Minister in the two Modi terms. Currently engaged in the gargantuan task of building 60 km of highways per day, he has made a major mark in roads and highways development via a well-laid network that cuts through the length and breadth of the country. While serious efforts at NH development started during the AB Vajpayee term, the Modi government took this forward in spectacular ways, with Gadkari powering the nation’s dreams on this count. He’s promising electrification of the Delhi-Mumbai highway and is also making a strong pitch for large-scale introduction of electric vehicles.
Gadkari, like Modi, came to politics from the RSS stable. He faced corruption allegations as a minister in Maharashtra but nothing could be proven against him. It is common knowledge that he had PM ambitions though the likes of Amit Shah wield more clout in the Modi ministry. Gadkari’s equations with the PM might not be excellent. He however is seen to carry with him the freedom to take decisions without interference from any side. He has as much clout and will power. Gadkari is an ideas factory in himself, innovative to the core; a rare presence in politics today, not just within the Modi government. Had he been simultaneously heading the railways too this ailing sector might also have gained the much-needed fresh steam.
Politics has several sides to it. Admittedly, wielding power is now integral to political pursuits. When India won Independence, politics meant an avenue for service to the society. Progressive degradation of the political sphere over the past several decades meant the ‘service’ component is today palpably missing from politics and public life. Self-interests guide each and every politician. One who is committed to a cause, and not to oneself, is bound to be edged out as politics is straddled mostly by selfish sharks. It is a debatable point whether the two terms of the Modi government have been able to effect any change to this worsening scenario. Worse, several states are ruled by regional leaders whose first priority, sadly, is their own family.