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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Indira-loyalist, shunned under Sonia
Abdur Rahman Antulay By

Barrister Abdur Rahman AntulayBarrister Abdur Rahman Antulay became the first Muslim chief minister of Maharashtra in early 1980s. During his brief tenure he ruled the state efficiently and earned fame as an able administrator. Common people began to consider him as their benefactor. He had chosen politics as a means of service to the people. That is why he did not resign from the presidentship of the ‘Pratishthan' in spite of his busy schedule as chief minister nor did he hesitate from taking drastic action for the welfare and betterment of his people. He took various steps for the welfare of people and eradication of poverty and started schemes like 'Sanjay Niradhar Yojna' and ‘Sanjay Swalamban Yojna' which remain memorable achievements of his government. Through these schemes poor people were benefited. Under these schemes facilities to take loans for starting and expanding small scale businesses were made available. Those who were unable to pay loans were exempted from repayment of loans. Besides, scholarships to handicapped and financial help to the sick, old, widows, freedom fighters and their dependents were provided. Antulay took a number of steps for setting up industries and worked tirelessly for their growth. He struggled to end communal hatred and promote communal harmony. 

In spite of all his praiseworthy efforts, opposition against him grew as some people could not stomach a ‘Muslim” chief minister, the same way as many Muslim chief ministers were finished either locally or by bringing them to the centre. A campaign of hate was started against him and his opponents and detractors started to ignore his achievements and disseminate false propaganda about him. He is a staunch Nehru-Gandhi loyalist. When Indira Gandhi fell on bad days after the Emergency when even some of her staunch supporters tried to sideline her or left her altogether, Antulay remained steadfast. He was among the few who firmly stood by her side through thick and thin of times. He tried his best along with other Indira loyalists to successfully bring her back to power. 

In view of his services to the nation and the Congress Party, it was expected that he will be rehabilitated and offered a proper place in the cabinet and outside it. But it seems the coterie around Sonia Gandhi feels safe without him in the inner circle, which is a loss to the party.

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