At 92, Maharashtra’s longest serving lawmaker to quit electoral politics
Maharashtra’s longest-serving assembly member, Ganpatrao Deshmukh, 92, has said he plans not to contest next elections, 59 years after he was first elected as a lawmaker in 1962Updated: Nov 13, 2018 15:59 IST
Maharashtra’s longest-serving assembly member, Ganpatrao Deshmukh, 92, has decided to bring his enviable record to a close by not contesting the next elections. Deshmukh, an MLA for 59 years was first elected as a lawmaker in 1962.
An 11-term Marxist Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) legislator from Solapur district’s Sangola, said he would not contest the Maharashtra elections due next year because of his age. “It is time I take the break as I cannot (even) read or write due to low vision,” said Deshmukh, who is one of the three PWP members in the Maharashtra assembly. Deshmukh is the second longest-serving lawmaker in the country after late Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi, whose electoral career spanned 61 years. Karunanidhi served as a MLA 13 times without a break. Deshmukh has contested 13 elections and lost twice in 1995 and 1972.
In 1995, he lost by a margin of just 192 votes. In the last elections in 2014, he defeated Congress’ Shahaji Bapu Patil by over 25,000 votes. Deshmukh has mostly been in the opposition. He first became a minister in Sharad Pawar’s Progressive Democratic Front government in 1978. Deshmukh joined the Maharashtra government for the second time in 1999, when the PWP supported the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance.
“As I was mostly in the opposition, I had to struggle to get various government projects in my constituency, where water scarcity is a major issue,” said Deshmukh, who is credited with the Tembhu irrigation project, which has helped irrigate over 50,000 acres of land in Sangola. Deshmukh’s electoral success has been attributed to the support he enjoys among farmers in his constituency.
“Such was the firm support that Deshmukh did not need to campaign much during the elections,’’ said Kishore Kulkarni, a local political observer.
He had declared assets worth Rs 2.2 crore during the last elections.
“Since I could not bear the expense of campaigning... my supporters collected donations ,” said Deshmukh, an arts and law graduate.