Deshmukh: Two-time Chief Minister leaves checkered record

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 14, 2012 10:40 hrs

Former Maharastra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has passed away due to multiple organ failure in a Chennai hospital.

He was a fixture of Maharastra politics for close to four decades and holds a highly checkered record.

Deshmukh was born on May 26, 1945 in Babhalgaon village, Latur district. He went on to earn three degress - B.Sc, B.A and LLB.

Deshmukh began his career at the bottom rung, joining the Babhalgaon Village Gram Panchayat in 1974. He wielded some influence even then, as he also became the Sarpanch of the Panchayat the year he joined it, in 1976.

He also became a Youth Congress leader at the age of 30 when he became the President of the Osmanabad District Youth Congress from 1975 to 1978.

He moved to center stage in Maharastra when he entered the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1980, representing Latur constituency. He would eventually win the same seat four more times, in 1985, 1990, 1999 and 2004.

His career in politics was a grand success, holding over a dozen ministries in various state governments, several ministries in the Union government and becoming the Chief Minister of Maharastra twice.

Only once, in 1995, he was beaten by a margin of 35,000 votes in the Latur constituency by the JD candidate, Shivajirao Patil. But he won the seat back in 1999 by a margin of over 90,000 votes.

During his time at the helm, he was known as a capable and efficient administrator who started several reform, development and social welfare programs.

However, his record over those years has also been controversial and checkered.

His first term in office (18 October 1999 – 16 January 2003) came to an abrupt end when factionalism within the party forced him to resign in favor of a Dalit leader - Sushil Kumar Shinde.

However, he quickly regained the mandate in 2004, beginning his second term as CM on 7 September 2004. Most of his controversies are from this term.

In 2006 farmers from the Vidharbha region in Maharastra tried to file a complaint against MLA Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family for charging excessive interest on loans they had given out.

However, no case was filed against the MLA or his family. The farmers took the case to the courts.

In court it was proven that Deshmukh's secretary had called the police station and instructed them not to file the FIR. (Interestingly, the cops did not file the FIR but noted the fact that they were told not to file the FIR in their records.)

Further more the District Collector was summoned to the Chief Minister's office the next day and given special instructions.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which lashed out against the Chief Minister, using extremely strong wording in its judgment.

The court said - "This Court is extremely anguished to see that such an instruction could come from the Chief Minister of a State which is governed under a Constitution which resolves to constitute India into a socialist, secular, democratic republic. Chief Ministers instructions are so incongruous and anachronistic, being in defiance of all logic and reason, that our conscience is deeply disturbed. We condemn the same in no uncertain terms,"

The state of Maharastra was fined 10 Lakhs by the court.

However, Deshmukh's biggest blowback occurred in the aftermath of the deadly attacks on Mumbai on 26 November 2008.

After the attacks, Deshmukh toured the destroyed Taj Hotel in his capacity as the Chief Minister.

For some reason, he took with him his actor son Ritesh Deshmukh and director Ram Gopal Varma. The scene caused mass outrage as people felt Deshmukh was disrespecting the victims and the gravity of the situation by taking his Bollywood friends along for an official inspection.

Deshmukh later took 'moral responsibility' for the attacks and resigned on 5 December 2008. But Deshmukh was not out of politics. He won a seat in the Rajya Sabha in August 2009 and held five portfolios in the Union Government. The Adarsh scam, which netted almost all top Maharastra politicians, soon closed around him as well.

He was accused on holding two flats in the Housing Society under the name of various family members. At the time of his death, the case was still being tried in special court. In 2011, it became known that Deshmukh was suffering from Liver cancer and his liver was rapidly failing.

On Monday August 6, the 67-year-old Deshmukh was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai for treatment on his liver. He was shifted to a super-specialty hospital in Chennai on Tuesday August 7 for a liver transplant, after tests found multiple organ failure and blood infection.

He is survived by his wife Vaishali Deshmukh, his three sons, Amit, Ritesh and Dheeraj and his younger brother Diliprao Deshmukh.

A complete list of the positions he held is below -

1974-79 Member, Zilla Panchayat, Osmanabad

1974-76 Sarpanch, Babhalgaon Village Panchayat, Taluka Latur

1974-79 Deputy Chairman, Latur Taluka Panchayat Samiti

1980-1995 and 1999-2009 Member, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly

1982-85 Minister of State, Department of Rural Development Home, General Administration, Agriculture, Transport, Education, Technical Education, Sports and Youth Affairs, Information and Publicity, Government of Maharashtra

1986-95 Cabinet Minister, Rural Development, Agriculture, Cooperation, Dairy Development & Fisheries, Public Works, Industries, Education and Technical Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, Co-operation, Transport, Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Maharashtra 18 Oct.

1999-18 Jan 2003 Chief Minister, Maharashtra 11 Nov. 2004-7 Dec. 2008 Chief Minister, Maharashtra (second term) Aug.

2009 Elected to Rajya Sabha May 2009 - Jan.

2011 Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises 19 Jan.

2011-12 July 2011 Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Panchayati Raj (Additional charge)

12 July 2011 onwards Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth Sciences Dec.

2011 onwards Vice-President,Parliamentary Forum on Disaster Management

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