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Former Maharashtra chief minister Babasaheb Bhosale passed away in Mumbai on Saturday following a brief illness. He was 86.
Bhosale's tenure from January 1982 to February 1983 was a colourful one, with his admirers and political rivals alike being at the receiving end of his witty one-liners.
Bhosale was a surprise appointment, when then prime minister Indira Gandhi [Images], in order to snub senior Maratha leaders, picked him up to succeed A R Antulay, now Union Minister.
A freedom fighter, Bhosale had participated in the freedom struggle and 'satyagraha' in 1939 while he was a student. He was imprisoned for one-and-a-half years in 1941-42.
Bhosale was born on January 15, 1921 at Satara in western Maharashtra. He was a law graduate and completed Bar at Law in 1951 and practiced for ten years at Satara.
He was elected to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1980 and later handled various important portfolios. President Pratibha Patil [Images] was a member of his cabinet, during his tenure as chief minister in 1982-83.
When Bhosale was made Maharashtra Chief Minister without anyone, including Bhosale himself expecting it, eyebrows were raised in political circles but no one came forward to question Gandhi's decision.
However, Bhosale made good of the just over a year's time he was at the helm of affairs of Maharashtra, to take several pro-people decisions.
He started the scheme of providing free education to girl students till class 10. He started the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court and also created Gadchiroli district.
Bhosale was instrumental in initiating welfare measures for freedom fighters and started pension scheme for them.
Bhosale received acclaim for the way he handled the strike by policemen during his tenure as CM. He dissolved the policemen's union which had the backing of some senior Congress leaders in the state.
He also eradicated the system of 'Badwe' (priests) at the famous Vithoba temple in Pandharpur and got overwhelming response from devotees who faced "harassment" from them.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was a minister of state in Bhosale's cabinet, rushed to Bombay Hospital after hearing the news of his demise.
"Bhosale will be forever remembered for providing an able administration and the various people-oriented decisions taken by him", Deshmukh said in his condolence message.
Bhosale's body will be brought from the Hospital on Sunday morning to his residence near Mantralaya and later cremated in south Mumbai with full state honours.
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