As a politician, Vilasrao Deshmukh knows how to work under pressure. Naturally,
even when faced with a critical situation he manages to maintain a calm disposition; while internally working on possible strategies. His naturally tranquil reactions, however, have drawn serious flak from his critics who have often dubbed his demeanour
as taking a "casual approach to problems". But those who know him and who are aware of his administrative capabilities know the truth that when it comes to challenges, Vilasrao is the type who will take the bull by its two horns – a tendency he has exhibited ever since his early years as the Village Sarpanch and Youth Congress leadership.
During the drought of 1982, with a view to spare the poor farmers from the trouble of spending their time and livelihood on buying seeds, Vilasrao and his workers had made arrangement for securing seeds at highly subsidized rates and distributed the same to drought-affected farmers. From organizing meetings to taking decisions and ensuring they were executed; all this Vilasrao had learnt and mastered during his years as the Village head.
After entering the Vidhan Sabha in the capacity of MLA, he had imbibed all the skills of able political negotiation – from putting up proposals, asking probing questions to setting the outline for the annual conference that is presided by the Governor. In this way, Vilasrao consolidated his administrative acumen, which prepared him to face the
rigors of functioning as a state level Minister and he never found it tough. While getting officials to perform a given task, thanks to his own legal proficiency, he would always make sure that the task would be done within the legal framework.
It is his belief that when someone narrates a particular problem to him, he is able to predict whether that issue can be solved or not and thus, taking pre-emptive action on the same comes easily to him. This makes things easier for the person concerned and also reduces the time and labour involved. While this approach was applied to solving people's personal issues, looking at the broader issues that affected society or public interests, he would simply take an aggressive stand to solve the problem despite all and to take on challenges head-on his perspective was always very clear that if one holds a ministerial position, then you are representative of the common man and that such a position of power is expressly meant for offering practical solutions to people's problems.
Vilasrao considers it his good fortune that he could come in contact and learn from
such veterans like Shri Yeshwantrao Chavan, Shri Vasant Dada Patil and Shri. Shankar Rao Chavan. The fact that, under Babasaheb Bhosale who gave him his first break as a minister and also his forthcoming tenure as minister under the governments led by such stalwarts such as Shri. Vasantdada Patil, Shri. Shankarrao Chavan, Shri Sharad Pawar and Shri Sudhakarrao Naik, had all added to his formative years of knowledge and exposure of high-power politics.
During his years with Shankarrao Chavan, Vilasrao got an opportunity to closely observe and imbibe from his excellent decision making and administrative abilities. While taking important decision, whose interests one must consider and which groups should be given special attention, these areas were very crucial and helped Vilasrao take a balanced decision after considering the peculiar pros and cons from every side. For Vilasrao had learned from so many Chief Ministers and honed his skills so well, the Home Minister whom he worked for would always find Vilasrao's decisions to be convincing in the best of interests.
The State has seen him gracefully take up the mantle of many key ministerial
positions – from Cultural Affairs, Education, Agriculture, Co-Operation, Industry and Revenue Minister. While fulfilling his role with all these diverse ministries and later twice as Chief Minister, Vilasrao's strategic and administrative focus was just one –
the betterment of the ordinary man – who formed part of his electorate.
As Minister of Cultural Affairs, Vilasrao had established strong bonding with the community of Marathi poets, artists, technical experts, talented directors, editors and so on. This is why he was always looked upon as a patron of the arts amongst the creative arts and performing arts fraternity. From wandering artist-troupes who travel village to village for performing music and drama to topmost Bollywood personalities, Vilasrao enjoys cordial relations with artists of all rank and file. A love for the folk arts and performing arts on the whole has been, for him, a family tradition. It is this closeness to the cause of cultural development that has helped him take decisions that went a long way to benefit the art and cultural communities.
Among his landmark developments in cultural affairs rank the development at Film City, the formation of Yeshwant Natyagriha under the auspices of Marathi Natyaparishad, Special grants for Marathi Film industry, grants to the state wide Dramatics Festivals, Special policy changes affecting the entertainment industry and his personal presence at various Folk Arts events – both as Minister and an avid arts lover, have all contributed to his popularity in the world of popular arts and cultural affairs. Thanks to all the positive efforts towards developing the
arts and cultural scenario in the State, Vilasrao proved that the arts and cultural platform was not just about glamour or show business, but it was in fact a mirror of our social values and could become an effective vehicle to take the message of socio-cultural development to citizens. That is why, well after 20-25 years of Vilasrao's solid groundwork in the arts and cultural development, there are many senior artists who are still actively contributing to their field, thanks to a good 20-25 years ago.
On similar lines, the education sector in Maharashtra under the tutelage of Vilasrao. After getting the reins of the education ministry, Vilasrao focused his sights on the rural areas, taking educational programmes to the very grassroots and educating the deprived sections like adivasi tribals. He gave prime importance to solving the twin core issues of timely teachers'salaries and making the right educational infrastructure and curriculum choice available to students. As an outcome, there was an marked rise in the numbers of meritorious students from locations other than the erstwhile Mumbai and Pune regulars, who started making headlines with the performance in the State level Secondary and Higher secondary exams and soon, the "Latur Pattern" of meritorious performance began gaining popularity in schools. Even today, secondary students from various districts make a beeline to gain admissions into Latur Schools to appear their Std X and Std XII in the region and if that is not possible, they try to join vacation batches in the region to prepare for the crucial exams. Thereby, not only has Latur developed as an education hub, but it is believed that many other districts have also tried to copy the Latur Pattern for gaining educational eminence.
In the sphere of industrial development, Vilasrao's real contribution came during his tenure in Ministry of Industry. In his position as Chief Minister, Vilasrao's frequent travels abroad not only gave him valuable insights into global scenario for industrial development but also gave him the opportunity to act as 'brand ambassador' for attracting industrial investments in Maharashtra at various international conclaves and conferences. As Chief Minister, he laid down the masterplan for Mega Industrial Development in Maharashtra and this entailed initiatives that would take industrial development and growth, beyond the industrialized centres of Mumbai-Pune, to underdeveloped regions across the State. At the helm of Heavy Industries during the years of his Chief Ministership, Vilasrao was successful in regaining Maharashtra's status as the nation's most heavily invested state in terms of industrialization. In his tutelage as CM , this ambitious project was finally inked and this saw a colossal investment of Rs.1.5 lakh crores in Maharashtra.
In this way. Vilasrao left an indelible stamp of excellence across every portfolio held by him.
During his tenure as Maharashtra's Chief Minister, Vilasrao was instrumental in getting various proposals and funding aimed at development of Mumbai and other towns and cities, sanctioned by the Central Government. With urban development as one of his core focus areas, Vilasrao took a personal interest towards attracting the prestigious JNNURM resources for funding key infrastructure development within the State. As a result of this, Congress bagged a landslide victory at the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha Elections of year 2009.