Nagpur: Former BJP national president Nitin Gadkari is back in reckoning after he defeated veteran Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar in Nagpur, the seat of RSS headquarters, in his debut Lok Sabha election.
Gadkari surprised the seven-term MP, who has won four terms from Nagpur in his political career, perfectly in tune with the saffron wave that has swept Vidarbha region and other parts of the country as well.
Gadkari trounced Muttemwar by a margin of 2,86,828 votes, polling a total of 5,87,767 votes as against 3,00,939 votes secured by the Congress leader.
In 1985, Gadkari, an MLC, had contested unsuccessfully as MLA.
A student leader, Gadkari rose to become the state BJP president and then steered the party at national level before stepping down over allegations of corruption in business dealings.
As former PWD minister in erstwhile NDA government (1995-55) in Maharashtra, he is credited with building a network of flyovers across the state and the Mumbai-Pune express highway.
A blue-eyed boy of RSS, Gadkari had campaigned extensively not only in Vidarbha but also in other parts of the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Varanasi, for BJP`s PM nominee Narendra Modi.
BJP had won from Nagpur only once in 1996 when Banwarilal Purohit had defeated Kunda Vijaykar of Congress, the daughter of former BCCI president S K Wankhede. Purohit originally belonged to Congress and had earlier won on the ticket of that party.
He had lost to Muttemwar in 2009 with a margin of 24000 votes.
Gadkari comes from the RSS background and is a regular at RSS programmes and attends them in traditional RSS attire. He enjoys a good rapport with current Sarsanghchalak (RSS chief) Dr Mohan Bhagwat and the general secretary Suresh Joshi.
During his interaction with media, Gadkari attributed BJP`s victory to the common people and the leadership of Modi.
"People were fed up with the price rise and corruption under the UPA government and wanted a big change in the leadership in the country," Gadkari said.