Ashok Chavan rewarded with repeat tenure as chief minister in Maharashtra

By Quaid Najmi, IANS,

Mumbai : Maharashtra, which enjoys a reputation of political stability, has had 17 leaders occupying the post of chief minister since the formation of the state May 1, 1960.

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Only once — for a four-month period between Feb 17-June 9, 1980 — it was placed under president’s rule.

Among the 14 leaders, some have ruled twice and a few have ruled the state thrice on various occasions, according to official records.

While the late Y.B. Chavan was the first chief minister (May 1, 1960-Nov 19, 1962), the fourth chief minister, the late Vasantrao Naik’s record of 12 years in the post (Dec , 1963-Feb 20, 1975) remains unbeaten so far.

At the other extreme, the late P.K. alias Balasaheb Sawant occupied the chief minister’s post for barely a fortnight – Nov 24, 1963-Dec 5, 1963.

Only five leaders have been sworn-in as chief minister on more than one occasion, among them being the incumbent Ashok Chavan.

The legendary leader, the late Vasantraodada Patil was sworn-in on four occasions, the first time in 1977.

His illustrious record was – first tenure May 17, 1977-March 5, 1978; March 5, 1978-July 18, 1978; Feb 2, 1983-March 9, 1985 and March 10, 1985-June 1, 1985. He also held top party posts and was governor of Rajasthan.

Next in the list is Sharad Pawar, considered Patil’s “political successor”, who was also sworn-in as chief minister on four occasions — July 18, 1978-Feb 17, 1980; June 26, 1988-March 4, 1990; March 4, 1990-June 25, 1991 and March 9, 1993-March 13, 1995.

Pawar has also handled key ministries like defence and agriculture in the central government under the late prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and also under present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Another senior leader, the late S.B. Chavan first ruled between Feb 21, 1975-May 17, 1977. Later, he was appointed chief minister and ruled between March 12, 1986-June 26, 1988 apart from holding key ministries in the central government.

His son Ashok Chavan first became chief minister Dec 4, 2008 making it the first time that a father-son duo has become chief minister in the state.

Now, after the Congress’ spectacular win in the Lok Sabha in May 2009, followed by a hat-trick win in Maharashtra assembly elections, Chavan – the only MBA chief minister of the state so far – has been rewarded with a repeat tenure.

His predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh’s first tenure was between Oct 18, 1999-Jan 16, 2003 and the second tenure from Nov 1, 2004-Dec 4, 2008. On both occasions, he left in a cloud involving his noted Bollywood actor son Riteish Deshmukh.

The remaining personalities held a single tenure of varying periods. They include: the late M. Kannamwar (Nov 20, 1962-Nov 24, 1963); A.R. Antulay (June 9, 1980-Jan 21, 1982) creating history as the state’s first Muslim chief minister and later became a union minister; the late Babasaheb Bhosale (Jan 21, 1982-Feb 1, 1983); Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar (June 3, 1985-March 6, 1986); the late Sudhakarrao Naik (June 26, 1991-March 8, 1993); Shiv Sena leader and head of the saffron combine with Bharatiya Janata Party Manohar Joshi (March 14, 1995-Jan 31, 1999), the first-ever Brahmin to lead the state who later became Lok Sabha Speaker.

Also from the same saffron combine was Narayan Rane (Feb 1, 1999-Oct 17, 1999); and then finally, Sushil Kumar Shinde (Jan 18, 2003-Oct 30, 2004) created history as the state’s first Dalit chief minister — he later became a union minister and contested the post of Vice-President.

Ashok Chavan – son of the late S.B. Chavan – took over as chief minister Dec 4, 2008, creating history as the first father-son duo to become chief ministers in the state.

For Chavan, its an honour of a different kind too — he has been re-appointed chief minister in the golden jubilee year of the formation of Maharashtra.