Millennium Post

‘Development politics, a must to make India powerful’

An honest search for innovative solutions to people’s most pressing needs should be the principal motivating factor in every political leader’s life’, feels Nitin Gadkari. The former BJP president and the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Nagpur, who has been entrusted with the task of preparing the BJP’s Vision Document 2025, aims at converting India into a ‘just, prosperous and powerful nation’. And to make this happen, Gadkari believes that there is an ‘urgent need to bring back good governance, agricultural growth, rural development and Antyodaya to the forefront of our political agenda’.

Lambasting the UPA government’s ‘malgovernance’, ‘corruption’ and ‘lack of political will’ for India’s current economic ills, Gadkari believes that ‘honest, bold and imaginative decision making ‘can solve many of our contemporary economic concerns. For instance, expressing concern over India’s burgeoning trade deficit, Gadkari says, ‘sincere and systematic efforts at indigenisation of electronic hardware can turn India into an exporter from the current importer status of electronic hardware items.’ The BJP leader is surprised that while the country had ‘16 gold mines’, it continues to import gold in huge quantities for ‘want of proper utilisation and extraction of the yellow metallic ore from the country’s mines.’ The BJP stalwart is clearly unhappy with India’s huge import bill worth $20 billion ‘on coal imports, despite India having Asia’s largest coal reserves’.

On reducing the massive Rs 60,000 crores edible oil import bill, Gadkari urges the ‘utilisation of vast areas of wastelands in the country for planting edible oilseeds.’ Distressed with the rapidly declining value of the rupee, Gadkari feels that ‘with appropriate commercial policies, the external value of the rupee could be increased from the current 60+ a dollar to Rs 30-35 per dollar in the near future’.

Critical of ‘Nehruvian socialism’ for neglect of agriculture and rural development in the country to begin with, Gadkari says ‘we never had a concrete, holistic and well rounded farm policy in the country’. Recognising ‘government inaction on irrigation’ as the most important factor for farm distress, Gadkari praised the Narendra Modi government’s initiative to construct more than 5 lakh check dams in Gujarat and the recent efforts by the Madhya Pradesh government to link Narmada and Shipra rivers so as to augment irrigation facilities for farmers.

Arguing to put an end to the ‘systemic neglect of agriculture and rural development’ by a ‘massive flow of private and public investment flow into the farm sector and rural infrastructure’, Gadkari recognises the potential of ‘organic farming, biotechnology, social forestry, agro-processing and plantations’ in boosting rural incomes.

Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader and ideologue, Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s idea of Antyodaya or uplift of the poor is central in Gadkari’s scheme of things. ‘My focus in politics was and has always been, to improve the living conditions of the downtrodden,’ says Nitin Gadkari. Emphasising the importance of rural roads in poverty alleviation, Gadkari argues ‘it is my firm belief that unless road connectivity is provided to the most backward villages of the country, Antyodaya cannot be realised.’ Urging a ‘massive investment in low cost housing for the poor’, Gadkari also views technology and competition as a tool to benefit the poor. ‘The biggest beneficiaries of new technology and competition in the telecom sector have been the poor. Today vegetable sellers and fishermen use cellphones to their economic benefit,’ says Nitin Gadkari.

Did he put some of his ideas into practice in Maharashtra where he had a chance to do so? ‘As an entrepreneur, I started the Purti Group of Companies in the year 2000. Rural development has been the focus of Purti Group’s programmes. The group is creating jobs and development opportunities for nearly 2,50,000 people in Nagpur, Bhandara and Wardha districts through its active interests in sugar, energy, biodiesel, cottage industries, dairy and agro-processing units’, says Gadkari.

‘I also promoted Agrovision, an exhibition in Nagpur where the best farm products are showcased with the ultimate aim of increasing incomes of farmers’, says the former BJP president. Highlighting his contributions as the PWD Minister in Maharashtra, Gadkari says, ‘I was dismayed by the poor road connectivity to villages in the state. One of my first tasks was to provide all-weather roads to the 13,736 villages in Maharashtra.’

On his role in strengthening urban infrastructure in the state, Gadkari says, ‘I believe, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the 55 flyovers of Mumbai, apart from being my most cherished accomplishments, set a precedent not only for Maharashtra but for the entire country in infrastructure funding and development.’
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