Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

India’s ‘Infra Man’ Gadkari, ‘trouble shooter’ Goyal, woman sarpanch among Maha’s ministers in Modi 3.0

Mumbai : BJP heavyweights Nitin Gadkari, widely regarded as the brain behind the country’s infrastructure push, and Piyush Goyal, credited with expanding India’s commercial interests and heft, lead the six ministers from Maharashtra in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third successive government.

A Vikas Purush: Niti Gadkari (BJP)

A staunch RSS activist and a leader having friends in every political party, Nitin Gadkari scored a hat-trick from his home turf Nagpur.

Gadkari is known as the ‘Vikas Purush’, because of his ministerial performance in the field of surface transport and shipping. Interestingly, Shiv Sena founder late Balasaheb Thackeray had to call him “Pulkari”, especially after the construction of a record 55 flyovers in Mumbai during his tenure as the Public Works Minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government between 1995 and 1999. During his same tenure, the much-discussed Mumbai-Pune Expressway was also constructed.

Known for his outspokenness in politics, Gadkari rose to the present position after starting his political journey as an ordinary activist. Later, he became a member of the Legislative Council, Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Council, State President of BJP, National President of BJP and was elected for the first time from Nagpur to Lok Sabha in 2014 elections and later again in 2019 and 2024.

Gadkari became the second Marathi leader to be elected as the BJP’s National President in 2009. He has also done various work in the social and industrial sectors. Gadkari’s bid for re-election suffered a setback after the Income Tax department conducted searches at the offices of companies linked to him which he described as “calculated, mischievous and politically motivated”.

As MP, Gadkari in his constituency carried out many activities for the senior citizens and made a record contribution to the welfare and development of the differently-abled persons. He had made special arrangements for the supply of oxygen in Nagpur during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He provided medical equipment to various hospitals through the social welfare fund.

A Trouble Shooter: Piyush Goyal (BJP)

A chartered accountant and an investment banker-turned-politician, Piyush Goyal was elected from Mumbai North during his maiden foray in the Lok Sabha elections.

Goyal, who hails from the Agarwal community, was associated with the BJP right from his childhood as his father Ved Prakash Goyal was BJP’s national treasurer and his mother Chandrakanta Goyal was an MLA. Goyal has emerged as a troubleshooter not only for the party but also for the government.

Goyal, who is celebrating his 60th birthday on June 13, was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 2010 and for the second time in 2016. Goyal has held various departments such as Coal, Power, Railways, Commerce, and Corporate Affairs till now. He has also served on various parliamentary committees on Finance and Defence.

Goyal succeeded Suresh Prabhu in charge of the Ministry of Railways in 2017 when India’s first semi-high-speed Vande Bharat train was launched between Delhi and Varanasi.

During the then Minister Arun Jaitley’s medical absence, Goyal also handled the Finance Ministry as an additional charge and presented an interim Union Budget in February 2019 ahead of the general elections.

Goyal is quite close to party leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Amit Shah, among others.

Goyal, who has been serving in the BJP for the last 35 years in various positions and the party’s national executive, has also held the post of party’s national treasurer. He has held the post of House Leader of Rajya Sabha.

From Sarpanch to MoS: Raksha Khadse (BJP)

BJP nominee from Raver, Raksha Khadse, who is the daughter-in-law of veteran leader Eknath Khadse, has risen to this position from a Sarpanch of the Kotwali village in the Jalgaon district in north Maharashtra. Although his father-in-law Eknath Khadse left the BJP in October 2020 and joined the Nationalist Congress Party, Raksha remained loyal to the BJP. Her decision to stick to BJP has now turned out to be a big positive to get a ministerial berth.

Raksha, who is a computer science graduate and fluent in four languages — Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and English, has been active in politics since 2010.

Raksha had been a member of Jalgaon Zilla Parishad before she was elected to the Lok Sabha riding the PM Modi wave in 2014 and later again in 2019 and 2024.

Raksha’s induction comes when her father-in-law Eknath Khadse is set to do a ‘ghar wapsi’ after his recent meeting with Amit Shah. Her elevation as the Minister of State is also a strong signal to the party heavyweight and state Cabinet Minister Girish Mahajan in the run-up to the state Assembly elections.

Hardcore Shiv Sainik to now MoS Independent Rank: Prataprao Jadhav

A hardcore Shiv Sainik, Prataprao Jadhav started his political career as the sarpanch and rose to become MoS (Independent Charge) in the Modi 3.0 government.

Jadhav deserted his former boss Uddhav Thackeray and joined the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena after the latter staged a rebellion in June 2022. He set a record of winning the Lok Sabha elections for the fourth successive term from the Buldhana constituency in the Vidarbha region.

Jadhav was elected to the state Assembly in 1995, 1999 and 2004 from Mehkar constituency. He had worked as the Minister of State for Sports and Irrigation in the Shiv Sena-BJP government during 1995 and 1999.

In 2009, after the Mehkar Assembly constituency was reserved, he contested the Lok Sabha elections from the Buldhana seat and became a “giant killer” after he defeated veteran NCP leader Rajendra Shingane.

A leader from the BR Ambedkar movement: Ramdas Athawale (RPI)

Despite not a single Lok Sabha MP, Ramdas Athawale, who is the National President of the Republican Party of India (RPI), took the oath as Minister of State. Inspired by B.R. Ambedkar, Athawale remained associated with the empowerment of the Dalit community. After the split in the Dalit Panther movement in 1974, he joined Arun Kamble and Gangadhar Gade. He was later associated with the Congress.

Athawale became a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 1990 and 1996 and was inducted as a Cabinet minister for Social Justice in the Sharad Pawar-led ministry in 1990. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1998 from Mumbai North Central and later from 1999 to 2009 from Pandharpur constituency. He joined hands with the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in 2011 and contested the BMC elections.

Since 2014, Athawale has been the Minister of State in the Narendra Modi-led government. Known for his political satire and poetry, Athawale hogged the limelight after in a video he chanted in March 2020, “Go Corona” at a rally.

From Mayor to MoS: Murlidhar Mohol (BJP)

A former Pune Mayor to Lok Sabha MP, Murlidhar Mohol hit the jackpot as he has been made a Minister of State in the Narendra Modi-led government.

Mohol, who hails from the politically influential Maratha community, is a close confidant of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who played a major role in getting him the party nomination. A staunch RSS activist, Mohol was elected to Pune Municipal Corporation in the 2002, 2007 and 2017 elections.

Mohol completed his education till class 10 in Pune and later reached Kolhapur for college and wrestling. He is a known wrestler who has hogged headlines in the past.

Mohol entered active politics around 1993 and held various posts, including the Secretary, Vice-President, City BJP General Secretary, Education Board Member and State General Secretary.

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