October 03, 1981 was a momentous day
in the history of Malegaon when the then chief minister of
Maharashtra, Abdur Rehman Antulay on a day-long visit to the city
announced that Malegaon would be declared a district within six
months. Those present at the opening ceremony of The Malegaon
Co-Operative Spinning Mills where Antulay made this announcement
recalled that he had also given strong indications that May 01,
1982 would be the historic day when people in Malegaon would see
this officially happening.
However, the decision put on the
backburner after Antulay relinquished office in January 1982
following the Bombay High Court order convicting him of extortion,
could not see light of the day till date.
Interestingly, political leaders and activists of Malegaon who are
known for having differing views even on important issues put on a
united front on this issue. According to Azeez Mukadam they
jointly met every chief minister who was in the office after
Antulay to remind them the promise he had made on behalf of the
On May 21, 1998, when former chief
minister Manohar Joshi was in Malegaon to induct local congress
leader Prashant Hiray into the Shiv Sena, he also promised that
his government would be declaring Malegaon a district very soon.
“His deputy Gopinath Munde was in
fact more outright. He said that only a non-Congress government
like theirs could convert Malegaon into a district”, Mukadam, who
is part of the quarter-century old campaign since beginning
Joshi’s announcement was the first firm assurance from the
government after the one made by Antulay. However, few months
after he made this announcement, he too was embroiled in a scam
and was forced to resign from the post in January 1999.
People of Malegaon, however, look at the issue differently. They
believe that the matter is pending because of the lack of
political will on the part of the government which they feel ‘for
the reasons best known to it’ wants to keep the matter pending.
The other reason they cite is the absence of a strong local
“Chief Ministers come and go. But if
a government decides to do something, nothing stops it. Malegaon
is not becoming a district because the government doesn’t want and
we don’t have anyone who can change its stand”. Najam Ansari, a
Chartered Accountant, said.
Incidentally, while a decision to convert Malegaon into a district
is pending, the city was extended many facilities that are
normally reserved for districts headquarters. Starting with
Additional Superintendent of Police, the city was also granted
Additional Session Court, RTO office, Additional Engineer MSEDCL,
200-bed hospital and was also upgraded to a Municipal Corporation.
Official sources say a State Bank of India regional office is also
on the card.
“It can easily be said that Malegaon is a ‘district
in practice’. But, why it is not converted into a ‘de-facto’
district, is known only to the government”, said Mukadam.
A compressed form of
this article also appeared in
today's Times of India