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Deshmukh fourth SandT minister in two years

New Delhi: Vilasrao Deshmukh on Tuesday became the fourth Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences since the formation of the UPA-II government.

66-year-old Deshmukh succeeds Pawan Kumar Bansal, who after a tenure of little over six months, has returned to his old Water Resources ministry.

After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was re-elected in May 2009, Prithviraj Chavan was appointed as the Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who held the twin portfolios in UPA-I, was given the charge after Chavan was sent to Maharashtra in November last year as chief minister.

The minor reshuffle of the Cabinet in January saw Bansal get the Science and Technology and Earth Sciences portfolio as additional charge to his Parliamentary Affairs ministry.

Deshmukh, who began his innings at the Centre in UPA-II as Minister for Heavy Industries, was given the Rural Development portfolio in January. He now has been made Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

One of the longest serving Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, his journey in politics began as a village sarpanch in Latur district. He steadily rose in the ranks to assume the top post in the state twice.

Deshmukh had been a minister in various governments in Maharashtra from 1982 to 1995 holding portfolios of revenue, cooperation, agriculture, home, industries and education.

He became chief minister in 1999 but had to step down in January 2003 and make way for Sushilkumar Shinde, a prominent Dalit face of Congress, following factionalism.

He was reappointed Chief Minister after the Congress-NCP alliance won the 2004 Assembly elections but had to quit in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.

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