Ajit Pawar attends launch of book on RR Patil, turns critic

The book is a compilation of speeches delivered by Home Minister R R Patil on terrorism and Maoists. After releasing the book formally, Pawar, much to the surprise of an audience that included his cabinet colleagues Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil, Babanrao Pachpute, state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad and other party legislators, started critiquing aspects of the book. 

PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Rural Development Minister Jayant Patil
Bookworms: (From left) PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Rural Development Minister Jayant Patil during the book launch of 'Bikat Vaat, Nazuk Gaath' at Y B Chavan Centre, yesterday

He objected to use of certain images in the book, including the book cover of James Laine’s controversial book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. The book had created a major controversy before the 2004 general elections.

There was no need to use such pictures, as certain things are better forgotten, said Pawar. He also pointed out some more images — a photograph of a toddler shaking hands with a naxal, a photograph of riots and damage to public property — and thundered that they were in poor taste. “We need to apply some social sense before using such pictures,” was the Deputy CM’s expert opinion.

He did not stop at that. After delivering his critical analysis, he hauled up Dr Sudhir Bhongle, who had compiled the speeches, and showed him the objectionable pictures in the book. Later, Dr Bhongle announced that changes would be made to the book.

Addressing the audience, Pawar suggested that its publisher, NCP MLC Kiran Pawaskar, publish a book on the unique phrases that Patil often delivers in his speeches.

Selective criticism?
When it came to the inspiration behind the book — home minister Patil himself — Pawar showered unhesitating praise on his party colleague. Eulogising Patil’s contribution to NCP and state politics, Pawar praised him for his hard work and sincerity. “No one can accuse Patil of corruption,” said the Deputy CM.

Later, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who has served as Home minister in the years 1999-2003, said the job was a thankless one. It’s someone else who commits a crime and it is the home minister’s onerous job to respond to queries about them. Backing Patil, Bhujbal said it was difficult to work on vague inputs given by central agencies. “How is it possible to zero in on one or two persons who, according to the inputs, have entered a metropolis bustling with slums?” he complained.

Bhujbal backed former city police commissioner Arup Patnaik for his role in the August 11 riots. “Had he ordered a march, many people would have died and that too would have led to his transfer from the post,” said the minister.

Lamenting the existence of regional lobbies in the senior echelons of the police force, Bhujbal appealed to IPS officers to discourage the lobbies. “When IAS cadres can join together for a cause why can’t you?” he asked, referring to the Telgi scam, which according to him ruined the careers of some talented police officers who engaged in infighting.  

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