In the midst of his grief, Amit Deshmukh has an additional burden — that of keeping his father’s legacy alive.
The 36-year-old legislator, a reserved man and reputedly a shrewd politician, has been groomed for this role for 14 years, ever since his father, Vilasrao Deshmukh, first became chief minister of Maharashtra, in 1999.
Unlike his humorous and extroverted dad, Amit is reserved, coming across as soft-spoken and well-read when he speaks in the legislature.
When he married TV actress Aditi Ghorpade in 2008, few people even knew that he had been dating her for two years.
Amit, Vilasrao’s eldest son, started his political career with the Maharashtra Youth Congress at age 22. Of Vilasrao’s three boys, he is the only politician. Dheeraj, the middle son, is a businessman, and Riteish, the youngest, a Bollywood actor.
As Vilasrao got busier with state politics, Amit gradually took charge of the sugar cooperatives and began overseeing the schools and colleges run by Deshmukh’s Manjra charitable trust in Latur.
In Vilasrao’s second term as CM (2004-08), as he made his way to the national stage, Amit also oversaw affairs in his father’s constituency of Latur.
Soon, he had cemented his position as his father’s right-hand man and begun playing an active role in Vilasrao’s decision-making process. In fact, there were murmurs in political circles over Amit’s influence on the chief minister’s Office.
As Vilasrao stepped into the union cabinet as minister for heavy industries and public enterprises, Amit contested the state elections from Latur and won with a wide margin of more than 89,000 votes.
Called ‘Amit Bhaiyya’ in his constituency, he is known to carefully nurture his voters, constantly meeting citizens and discussing local issues.
“Amit is a politician to watch out for in Maharashtra,” says fellow Congress legislator and family friend Praniti Shinde, daughter of union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde. “He has been groomed very well, for a long time. He is shy but has a very warm heart and has a way with people. He has picked up his father’s astuteness.”
Adds BJP leader Vinod Tawde, leader of the opposition in the state legislative council: “He has all the qualities a politician needs, but I wish his father were around to groom him for a few more years.”