Sangli (Maharashtra), Feb 17:
Lakhs of people bade a tearful farewell to former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Raosaheb Ramrao Patil in his native Anjani village here Tuesday.
Patil, 57, a former state home minister, passed away Monday evening after a battle with oral cancer.
He was Tuesday cremated with full state honours, including a 21-gun salute. The state government earlier declared Tuesday as a period of official mourning. He was the state home minister during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
R.R.Patil is survived by his mother Bhagirathi, wife Suman, three children — Smita, Supriya and Rohit. The three children jointly lit the funeral pyre.
As per Patil’s desire, there will be no post-funeral ceremonies or events, marking a departure from tradition.
Thousands of people lined both sides of the six kilometre route, from the airport to a venue where the body was kept for the final ‘audience’ by residents.
The solemn atmosphere was awash with cries of ‘Aaba Amar Rahe’ (Long live Aaba), with many people beating their chests to express their deep sense of sorrow at the passing away of the leader, locally known as ‘Aaba’.
The last rites were performed by his teenaged son Rohit in an open ground in Anjani where Patil was born, grew up, harboured his political roots and was later elected six times to the Maharashtra legislature.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, veteran crusader Anna Hazare, National Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar and other party leaders like Sunil Tatkare, Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad and Dilip Walse-Patil were present.
Senior Congress leaders Narayan Rane, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan, Sushilkumar Shinde, Patangrao Kadam, retired IPS officer-turned-politician Vikram Bokey also attended the funeral.
Top BJP leaders like Raosaheb Danve and several current cabinet ministers, parliamentarians and legislators, and party activists attended the funeral in large numbers.
Leaders across the political spectrum paid tributes to Patil before the funeral and extended condolences to the bereaved family.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharastra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale and other personalities also paid glowing tributes to Patil since Monday night.
Patil breathed his last at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, where he had been undergoing chemotherapy for the past few weeks and was put on life-support systems early Monday.
His body was kept in state at the NCP headquarters in Mumbai and taken early Tuesday to Anjani village in his native Sangli district.
An icon for his clean image, besides being easily accessible to the masses and party activists, Patil was among the most trusted advisors of NCP President Sharad Pawar who supported him through thick and thin.
“My life is influenced by the late Yashwantrao Chavan, the late Vasantrao Patil and my inspiration is Sharad Pawar. Under his able guidance, I am trying to inculcate fearlessness and faith in people of Maharashtra through my police force,” Patil once said.
Patil had started his career as a young politician in his home district and was elected to the Sangli Zilla Parishad from 1979-1990.
Since his maiden election on a Congress ticket to the assembly in 1990, Patil first became an NCP minister in the Congress-NCP Maharashtra government and was given the important rural development portfolio.
In 2003, Patil was given the critical home department following the resignation of the then deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Impressed by his performance, the party bosses elevated him as deputy chief minister the following year, 2004.
However, Patil had to quit his post as home minister in 2008 following his off-the-cuff remarks after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Patil, however, bounced back as the state home minister for a second term in 2009 and continued till the Congress-NCP coalition was voted out in the 2014 assembly election.
Patil also served twice as NCP state president. His important decisions as home minister included a ban on the dance bars in Mumbai and Maharashtra in 2005.
It also included the much-hailed insurance scheme for police personnel in the state and scheme to adopt tribal children to bring them into the social mainstream.
Maharashtra’s political spectrum has been shaken by the deaths of three young and popular leaders in recent years — Congress’ Vilasrao Deshmukh (2012), BJP’s Gopinath Munde(2014), and R.R.Patil this year. IANS