The first Chief Minister of United Maharashtra and the Architect of modern Maharashtra
Yashwantrao Chavan is best defined as the Architect of Modern Maharashtra. In a career spanning 40 years, Yashwantrao’s invaluable contribution was guiding the politics of Maharashtra in the right direction in a balanced and non-discriminative manner. He has always been described as a sponge for knowledge, highly creative, cultured and intellectual leader and a disciplined statesman who dealt with everyone including the opposition respectfully.
It was on the strength of his qualities that he inconceivably traversed from the son of a poor farmer to a national leader. Yashwantrao was born in Devrashtre village in Satara district in 1913. It was his mother Vithabai who nurtured and groomed him. In the pre-independence period, during his school days at Karad, Yashwantrao was imprisoned for 18 months for hoisting the tricolour. After completing his education in law, despite having recently married he was at the forefront in Satara during the Quit India movement. He spent another two years in prison for these efforts.
He was elected the first Chief Minister of the bilingual State of Bombay formed in 1956. When Bombay was annexed into the newly formed United Maharashtra on 1st May, 1960, he was once again elected as the first Chief Minister. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, appointed him as the Defence Minister during the war with China in 1962. This can be considered as the pinnacle of his career. Later, he also completed terms in several other capacities such as the Vice President, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Foreign Minister. He was the leader of the opposition during the Janata Party’s rule in the years 1977-78. Later he also headed the central Finance Ministry.
It can be said that the roots of the economic, financial and cultural development of the State of Maharashtra can be found in the immense work done and the critical decisions taken by Yashwantrao Chavan during his years in charge. Few important examples of the work done by Yashwantrao Chavan are as follows:
- Initiation of the 3-tier system of Panchayat Raj (Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti, Gram Panchayat)
- Initiation of the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and the Five Year Plans at the State level.
- Propagation of the bunds at Kolhapur and facilitation of work at the dams of Koyna and Ujni.
- Foundation of 18 sugar factories and support to the co-operative movement
- Foundation of the Marathwada (now Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University) and Shivaji Universities
- Major contribution in the conceptualization of the foundation of Agro Universities in the State
- Foundation of the Marathi Sahitya Sanskruti MahaMandal and VishwaKosh Mandal
Had Yashwantrao not entered politics, he would definitely have made an excellent litterateur. He shared good bonds with the likes of TarkaTeerth LakshmanShastri Joshi and the distinguished Sanskrit and Hindu scholar and N. D. Mahanor, the well known poet. He would regularly attend poem recital concerts. His literary ability is evident in his books like Krishnakath and Runanubandh.
Today, thanks to the contribution of Yashwantrao Chavan, the State of Maharashtra stands out in various fields of national importance.