Devendra Fadnavis is all set to become the Maharashtra chief minister for the second time in a row. The BJP-Shiv Sena is poised to comfortably secure victory in the 2019 Maharashtra assembly elections and form the next government.
Devendra Fadnavis had recently completed his full five-year term, the first in 47 years for any chief minister from Maharashtra to do so. He will be only the second chief minister from Maharashtra after Vasantrao Naik to achieve this feat.
Since the state of Maharashtra came into being in 1960 after Bombay was split into two states- Maharashtra and Gujarat, it has seen twenty-three chief ministers in its nearly 60 years of existence with the latest CM being Devendra Fadnavis.
Following the creation of the Maharashtra state in 1960, late Congress leader Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan was elected as the first chief minister of the state. However, in 1962, after the resignation of then defence minister VK Krishna Menon, Chavan was called by the Nehru government to serve as Defence Minister.
YB Chavan was replaced as chief minister by Congress leader Marotrao Kannamwa, who became the second chief minister of Maharashtra from 1962-63, who held office for little over a year. He died while being in the office. The then Maharashtra home minister PK Sawant was made the chief minister for 10 days as a stopgap arrangement until a suitable candidate for the post was found.
Senior Congress leader Vasantrao Naik became the chief minister of the state on December 1963 and served for nearly three-and-a-half years till March 1967 to complete the term of the second Maharashtra assembly. The Congress party led by Vasantrao Naik went into elections in 1967 and secured a thunderous victory, making him the chief minister of the state for full five years till 1972.
Naik, who hailed from Vidarbha has the unique distinction of becoming the first and only Maharashtra chief minister to finish his full term of five years. In 1972, as incumbent chief minister, Naik led another successful election campaign for the party and became Maharashtra CM for the third time.
The Emergency Years:
At a time when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975, the politics in the state took a slight turn towards caste politics as the then Prime Minister replaced Naik with Maratha leader Shankarrao Bhavrao Chavan, who was considered to be a trusted loyalist to Mrs Gandhi. SB Chavan continued to serve the state as Chief Minister till a couple of weeks after Emergency was lifted in 1977, following Indira Gandhi and her party’s massive defeat against the Janata Party.
The era of Maratha politics:
Vasantdada Patil, who was the irrigation minister in SB Chavan’s cabinet, replaced him as the chief minister of the state. Patil, who was considered as one of the true mass leaders of the state, continued to be the chief minister till 1978 when the state went to polls yet again.
The Congress which just had a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Janata Party in the 1977 general elections, now faced severe internal rebellion. Following the results of the state elections in 1978, a split occurred in the Congress party and Vasantdada Patil headed Congress (Indira) camp and formed a coalition government. The other rebel faction was known as Indian National Congress (Socialist), which was led by Devraj Urs, an influential Karnataka politician and Chief Minister.
However, difference began to erupt within the Congress party which led to the ousting of Patil by none other than a 37-year-old young man, who later went to become one of the most influential politicians of the country – Sharadrao Govindrao Pawar.
The young lawmaker from Baramati – Sharad Pawar, broke away from the Congress party by joining hands with Congress (Socialist) and engineered defections in the Patil government before walking away with 40 MLAs. He then formed the Progressive Democratic Front government with the Janata Party’s support.
However, Sharad Pawar’s first stint as chief minister lasted for almost a year-and-a-half before the state was put under President’s Rule for the first time in 1980. Soon, elections were called after Indira Gandhi came to power in Centre. The Congress was back in power by securing 186 seats out of 288 assembly seats.
The Congress party elected its first Muslim chief minister in 1980 when Abdul Rehman Antulay was given the responsibility of the state. Two years later, Antulay had to resign as chief minister after he was convicted by the Bombay high court on extortion charges.
A turbulent phase:
After the resignation of Antulay, the state saw some turbulent years with frequent change in the leadership of the state. As many as four Chief Minister led various government in a span of six years till 1988. PM Indira Gandhi chose Babasaheb Bhosale to succeed Antulay in 1982, who lasted just one year. Later, former Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil became the Chief Minister of the state in February 1983 for the third time. He continued till the 1985 elections.
After the seventh Maharashtra legislative elections in 1985, the Congress party chose to replace Patil once again. This time Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar replaced him, who went on to become the Chief Minister of the state for another 277 days. He had to resign in 1986 after the Bombay high court passed orders against him in connection with a scam related to medical exam results.
After Nilangekar resigned in 1986, the Congress which was facing yet another crisis turned back to its old hand, SB Chavan to save the party from disaster. Chavan became the chief minister for the second time and lasted till 1988.
The rise of Sharad Pawar:
With the rise of regional parties like Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar returned to Congress (Indira) camp in 1987. In June 1988, the then PM Rajiv Gandhi decided to induct then Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan into his Union Cabinet as Finance Minister and Sharad Pawar was chosen to replace Chavan as chief minister. Since then, Pawar continues to play one of the major roles in Maharashtra politics.
In the state assembly elections of February 1990, the alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party posed a stiff challenge to Congress. The Congress party led by Sharad Pawar fell short of an absolute majority in the state assembly, winning 141 seats out of 288. Pawar, who was keen to consolidate his position as the most influential Maratha leader joined hands with 12 independents to become the chief minister for the third time.
With the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Sharad Pawar raised his ambitions and set his eyes on the post of Prime Ministership in 1991. Pawar mounted an ambitious, failed bid to become prime minister. PV Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister of the country and Pawar was made defence minister in his cabinet.
Following Pawar’s elevation to the centre, low-key Congress leader Sudhakarrao Naik, a nephew to former chief minister Vasantrao Naik elected as the chief minister of Maharashtra. During the tenure of Naik, communal riots took place in Mumbai in late 1992. Criticised for his inability to stop the riots, Naik resigned in 1993 paving way for Sharad Pawar to return back to state politics. Pawar became the chief minister of the state for the fourth time, holding the post till elections in 1995.
Shiv Sena- BJP and the coming of coalition politics:
The 1995 elections in Maharashtra opened up a new chapter in the state politics as for the first time a coalition government headed by a non-Congress party rose to power. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 138 out of the 288 assembly seats. The elections were also the first elections that held in the state after the incidents of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Uttar Pradesh, the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai and the communal riots in the state.
Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena became the first non-Congress chief minister of Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance also had support from a bunch of independents. Joshi’s ruled the state for four years before resigning after he was accused in a land scam. Joshi was replaced by party colleague Narayan Rane.
The Congress returns:
The Congress returned to power in Maharashtra after winning the 1999 elections. Interestingly, Sharad Pawar was no more associated with the Congress party as he was expelled from the party for proposing the idea of a native-born being the prime ministerial candidate of the country post-1999 elections and not the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who had just become the party president replacing Sitaram Kesri.
In 1999, Sharad Pawar formed his new front – Nationalist Congress Party. Despite quitting the Congress party, Sharad Pawar aligned with the Congress party to form a coalition government in Maharashtra post-1999 state assembly elections to prevent the Shiv Sena-BJP from returning to power.
However, Sharad Pawar never returned to state politics thereafter but rather concentrated in consolidating his newly built party NCP. The Congress-NCP alliance chose Vilasrao Deshmukh, MLA from Latur as the state’s new chief minister. NCP leader Chagan Bhujbal was made his deputy. Deshmukh ruled till 2003 after an internal rebellion broke out. To contain the factionalism, he was replaced by another Marathwada leader, Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Sushil Kumar Shinde became Maharashtra’s first Dalit chief minister of the state. Under his leadership, the Congress party went into the 2004 state assembly elections. The Congress returned to power in both the state and centre, which led to Shinde moving to the Centre. Shinde later went on to become the governor of Andhra Pradesh.
Vilasrao Deshmukh was once again installed as chief minister, who ruled from 2004 to 2008. However, Deshmukh had to resign following the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
The Congress party then chose Ashok Chavan, son of the former Maharashtra CM Shankarrao Chavan. Chavan who was then known for his “clean image” replaced Deshmukh and led the party in the 2009 assembly elections. In 2009, the Congress-NCP alliance retained power for the third straight time. Ashok Chavan was re-elected as the chief minister for the second time. However, he had to resign from the post following the Adarsh housing society scam.
Prithviraj Chavan, who was a minister in Manmohan Singh government was elected as the Chief Minister of the state. Chavan, another leader from Marathwada stayed as chief minister for the next four years. Later, Prithviraj Chavan had to resign from his post after the NCP broke its alliance with the Congress before the 2014 assembly elections.
The Fadnavis years:
The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena fought the 2014 state elections separately along with other smaller coalition partners including Republican Party of India (Athavale), Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha. The NDA coalition won a resounding victory with securing almost two-thirds of the vote in the state assembly.
Devendra Fadnavis, a 44-year-old four-time MLA became the second-youngest Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2014. In 2019, Devendra Fadnavis successfully completed his full five-year term and also became the first chief minister to do so in 47 years.
In 2019, the BJP-SS alliance fought the Maharashtra state elections under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. The NDA coalition is currently leading in more than a majority of seats and is expected to form the next government in Maharashtra.