Former Gujarat Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki passes away at 93
Madhavsinh SolankiFile photo

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki passes away at 93

Gandhinagar, January 9, 2021

Veteran Congress leader Madhavsinh Solanki, a four-time Chief Minister of Gujarat and who also served briefly as India's External Affairs in the early 1990s, passed away here today.

He was 93. His wife, Vimlaben had predeceased by him. He is survived by three sons and two daughters.

Solanki, who had stayed away from active politics for the past many years, breathed his last at this residence here this morning, sources close to him said.

One of his sons, Bharatsinh Solanki, a two-time member of the Lok Sabha, is a former Union Minister and senior leader of the Congress in Gujarat.

Born on July 30, 1927, Solanki, a lawyer by profession, was widely regarded as an able administrator and a suave and well-read politician.

He was first elected to the then Mumbai Legislative Assembly in 1957 and then as a Member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly after the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were carved out of Mumbai state.

Solanki became the seventh Chief Minister of Gujarat and had a short term from December 24, 1976 to April 10, 1977.

As Opposition leader during 1977-80, he travelled across the length and breadth of Gujarat to revitalise the Congress in the state and the results could be seen when he led the party to a thumping majority with 140 seats in the 182-member assembly in the 1980 elections.

Solanki served out a full five-year term as Chief Minister this time, and his success in that phase was attributed to KHAM -- an alliance of Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims that he stitched -- which swept the Congress to power but ended up alienating the upper and other castes from the party. In the ultimate analysis, the caste politics that he played proved to be his undoing, as far as Gujarat politics was concerned.

He became Chief Minister twice more, from March 11, 1985 to July 6, 1985 and later from December 10, 1989 to March 3, 1990.

Solanki had two terms as a member of the Rajya Sabha -- from April 3, 1988 to April 2, 1994 and then from April 3, 1994 to April 2, 2000.

At the Centre, he served as Union Minister of Planning from June,1988 to November, 1989. In 1991, in a surprise move, he was appointed as External Affairs Minister. However, his stint in South Block came to a sudden end when he had to quit after reports emerged that he had, during a meeting with the thenn Swiss Foreign Minister Rene Felber on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1992, tried to influence the probe into the Bofors payoff case.

In due course, Solanki returned to Gujarat, where he kept away from active politics in the years that followed.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi was among those who condoled the passing away of Solanki.

"Saddened by the demise of Shri Madhavsinh Solanki. He will be remembered for his contribution in strengthening the Congress ideology & promoting social justice," Gandhi said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to condole Solanki's death.

"Shri Madhavsinh Solanki Ji was a formidable leader, playing a key role in Gujarat politics for decades. He will be remembered for his rich service to society. Saddened by his demise. Spoke to his son, Bharat Solanki Ji and expressed condolences," he said.

"Beyond politics, Shri Madhavsinh Solanki Ji enjoyed reading and was passionate about culture. Whenever I would meet him or speak to him, we would discuss books and he would tell me about a new book he recently read. I will always cherish the interactions we had," Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat for 12 years before becoming Prime Minister, said.

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