Before the Lok Sabha elections in April-May, it appeared like the cop-turned-politician would have to pack his bags and return to Solapur.
But contrary to expectations, the results failed to wipe the perennial smile off his face. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance did lose ground to the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Maharashtra, but not as much as expected.
Shinde was elected MLA five times before he moved to central politics and was the opposition's vice-presidential candidate in 2002. He took over as Maharashtra's chief minister from Vilasrao Deshmukh in January 2003.
After the Lok Sabha polls, he went overboard to regain lost ground - rushing relief to drought-hit areas, easing the debt burden of farmers, distributing largesse to sugar co-operatives. A former deputy chief minister pointed out: Last five years, the state cabinet did not take more than two decisions in a sitting. But at a recent meeting, it took 17!
A genial person, he is on good terms with most people, particularly the people who matter - party president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, which makes him the leading contender should the Congress-NCP retain power.
But first, he has to reverse the electoral setbacks the Congress suffered in his native Solapur district by winning his seat and others in the vicinity.
Design & Concept: Rahil Shaikh | Text: Dhiraj Shetty
Also Read: Maharashtra's rising Star