Updated: August 1, 2021 9:55:17 am
Hundreds of people turned up to bid a tearful adieu to Ganpatrao Deshmukh (95), who held the record of winning the Maharashtra Assembly election 11 times, in Sangola taluka of Solapur district on Saturday. He was cremated with full state honours on the Sangola Cooperative Spinning Mill grounds.
The veteran leader of Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) died at a private hospital in Solapur late Friday evening. Fondly addressed as ‘Abasaheb’, the former state minister had been in the hospital for the last 15 days and died due to age-related ailments. He was being treated for gall bladder stones and had recently undergone a surgery.
At his funeral, Solapur District Guardian Minister Dattatrya Bharne said,”Ganpatrao Deshmukh set an example of simple living and high thinking. As a tribute, the government will soon name a state welfare scheme after him.”
Teary-eyed residents of Sangola taluka and from across Solapur district, as well as leaders and workers from several parts of Maharashtra turned up to pay their last respects to the leader, whose popularity spanned across the state.
Deshmukh had represented Sangola in the state Legislative Assembly for 11 terms since 1962, and served as an MLA for 54 years. He was defeated in the 1972 Assembly elections, but again won in a by-poll in 1974. In the 1995 Assembly elections, he lost by a slender margin of 192 votes, said his grandson Aniket Deshmukh.
He had won the Sangola seat in the 2014 state elections for a record 11th time and served in the Assembly till 2019.
Deshmukh also served as a minister in the government led by Sharad Pawar in 1978 and again in 1999, in the Vilasrao Deshmukh-led cabinet, when his party PWP extended support to the Congress-NCP alliance.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari condoled the death of Deshmukh and paid rich tributes.
“Deshmukh carved out a niche for himself in public life. He represented his constituency for the longest period in the state assembly and did so consistently… he will be remembered for his simple living and high intellect,” the CM said.
In his condolence message, Koshyari said the veteran politician was a model public representative. “I was saddened to know about the demise of the senior-most leader of the Peasants and Workers Party and the longest term member of the state Legislature, Shri Ganpatrao Deshmukh… a model people’s representative, Shri Deshmukh maintained his chord with farmers, workers and ordinary citizens all his life. He was an epitome of simple living and high thinking,” Koshyari said.
The governor said Deshmukh was an institution in himself. “A man of peace and restraint, Shri Deshmukh was a fearless leader, having friends across the political spectrum. In his demise, the state has lost an institution in state legislature,” Koshyari added.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The ordinary man has an extraordinary leader. His speeches had a lasting impression… in the House. When we ensured water to drought-hit areas, we had received his blessings. I shared a good personal equation with him and his demise is a personal loss for me.”
Paying tribute on behalf of the party, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “It is the end of an era… Ganpatrao Deshmukh was trusted by the people for a long time and he went against the tide to practice his ideology. He never compromised with his principles. Maharashtra will never forget the service rendered to people by its favourite son.”
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