New Delhi: Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who died in Chennai on Tuesday, was the tallest Maratha leader in the Congress party. A two-term chief minister of Maharashtra, Deshmukh is survived by wife Vaishali Deshmukh and three sons.
Born on May 26, 1945 at Babhalgaon, Latur district of Maharashtra, he rose from a member of Zilla Parishad to become the chief minister of Maharashtra and later on became a Cabinet Minister.
Even though Deshmukh was named in the Adarsh Housing Society scam and was under fire after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he was seen by most as a grassroots leader and respected by many. He was also Congress party's star campaigner in Maharashtra.
Known as a canny politician with the ability to negotiate, Vilasrao was deputed to negotiate with Anna Hazare at the hight of the anti-corruption agitation in August 2011 at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan.
Deshmukh was a Member of Parliament representing Maharashtra in Rajya Sabha. Before taking this charge, he was Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India. He was also a two-time Chief Minister of Maharashtra, from 1999 to 2003 and from 2004 to 2008. He was a member of the Indian National Congress and originally belongs to Latur district in the Marathwada region of the state of Maharashtra.
He graduated with a degree in Science (BSc) and Arts (BA) from MES Abasaheb Garware College, (Pune University) and went on to study law (LLB) from the ILS Law College (Pune University). He started social activities in his early youth with particular interest in drought relief work. He was elected as the Director of the Osmanabad district Central Cooperative Bank and also of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank in 1979.
Deshmukh entered active politics and became member of the Babhalgaon Village Panchayat from 1974 to 1979 and its Sarpanch (village chief) from 1974 to 1976. He was a member of Osmanabad Zilla Parishad and Deputy Chairman of Latur Taluka Panchayat Samiti (Latur District Panchayat Committee) from 1974 to 1980. As a President of Osmanabad District Youth Congress from 1975 to 1978, he worked for the implementation of Five Point Programme of the Youth Congress. He organised the youth in Osmanabad district and became President of District wing of the Indian National Congress.
He was Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from 1980 to 1995 winning 1980, 1985 and 1990 elections.
During this period, as the Minister of State and the Cabinet Minister, Deshmukh handled departments such as Home, General Administration, Cooperation, Public Works, Transport, Legislative Affairs, Tourism, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development Fisheries, Industry, Rural Development, Education, Technical Education, Sports and Youth Welfare. He was a minister in various governments in Maharashtra from 1982 to 1995 holding portfolios of revenue, cooperation, agriculture, home, industries and education.
Important landmarks in Vilasrao Deshmukh's career:
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 October 1999-18 January 2003: Chief Minister, Maharashtra
11 November 2004-7 December 2008: Chief Minister, Maharashtra (second term)
August 2009: Elected to Rajya Sabha May 2009
January 2011: Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
19 January 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
December 2011 onwards: Vice-President, Parliamentary Forum on Disaster Management.