Home Indian Muslim A.R. Antulay, Maharashtra’s first Muslim CM, is dead

A.R. Antulay, Maharashtra’s first Muslim CM, is dead

Mumbai : Congress veteran Abdul Rahman Antulay, Maharashtra’s first Muslim chief minister and a former central minister, died here Tuesday following prolonged illness, his nephew said. He was 85.

Antulay passed away at the Breach Candy Hospital where he was admitted a few days ago.

He is survived by his wife Nargis, son Naved and daughters Neelam, Shabnam and Mubina, said nephew and son-in-law Mushtaque Antulay.

File photo Abdul Rahman Antulay (Courtesy: IBN)

Known as ‘Barrister Antulay’, he was the state’s first Muslim chief minister, from June 1980 to January 1982 and a loyalist of then Congress president and prime minister Indira Gandhi.

The party’s most prominent face in the Konkan region, Antulay served as a union minister in 1995 and later in the UPA-I government of prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The funeral ceremony will be conducted Wednesday in his village Ambet in Mhasla region of Raigad district, Mushtaque Antulay told IANS.

He was the second Congress veteran to die within a few days in Maharashtra after former union minister Murli Deora expired in Mumbai Nov 24.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis condoled the demise of Antulay.

“Maharashtra has lost a leader who worked for the interest of the common man,” Fadnavis said.

Political leaders cutting across party lines, including former chief minister Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena, paid glowing tributes to Antulay.

The state government announced a three-day state mourning in his memory.

During the mourning period, there will be no official entertainment or celebrations or major government functions, including the likely expansion of the council of ministers, till Dec 5.

Born Feb 9, 1929, Antulay plunged into his social and political career in 1945 and later studied law in London and became a Barrister-at-Law.

The young lawyer became a legislator 1962-1976 from Raigad district.

During that period, he became a minister and served in various capacities till he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1976. He served till 1980.

After the 1980 elections, he was handpicked by then prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the Maharashtra chief minister in an attempt to break the Maratha monopoly in state politics.

However, he was shortly afterwards embroiled in the infamous ‘cement scam’ and the Indira Gandhi Pratisthan trusts in which he allegedly solicited donations from builders in return for cement quotas.

Following a national furore, he was forced to resign, but was exonerated of all the allegations.

“He was a truly great human being. He set up the trusts for the benefit of the poorest people in society, but they became his undoing. Even during the trial, he was always amiable and soft-spoken, never harbouring animosity or ill-will against anybody,” said noted criminal lawyer J.P. Mishra.

Now the BJP’s north Mumbai president, Mishra represented the late BJP leader Ramdas Nayak who had filed corruption cases against Antulay. However, Antulay was acquitted of all charges.

Later, as a union minister, Antulay again created controversy when he raised doubts about the killing of police officials during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.