It was an emotionally-charged day for Suman Patil yesterday. Two months after the death of her husband, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stalwart and former Home minister R R Patil, Suman was elected to the state assembly with a thumping victory margin in the by-election from Tasgaon-Kavathe Mahankal constituency.
Suman Patil said that while her husband was seen as an Aaba, or elder brother, she would prefer if people thought of her as their younger sister
Suman secured more than 1.31 lakh votes, paving the way for her victory against nine other candidates in the constituency, defeating her nearest competitor by a margin of a whopping 1,12,963 votes. The by-poll was necessitated by the death of R R Patil on February 16.
Sidelines to forefront
Fifty-year-old Suman is a homemaker and had never been in the limelight until her husband’s death. The NCP decided to field her against nine Independent candidates, including Swapnil Patil a BJP rebel while other political parties decided not to contest the by-election.
The counting started at 8 am yesterday at the administrative building of Tasgaon. During the counting, Suman was sitting next to her husband’s photograph at home. After her victory was announced, she stepped out with her daughter Smita and collected the certificate from the election officer.
Speaking to mid-day, a teary-eyed Suman said, “I want to thank the voters who believe in my family; I will maintain their trust till my last breath. My family is still recovering from the pain of my husband’s death. My husband was considered an elder brother by locals, which was reflected in how they addressed him Aaba (elder brother) but I would prefer if people address me as their younger sister.
I will march on the path laid down by their Aaba, which he paved for people’s benefit.” “After my husband’s death, I received many calls and letters from people, which would boost my morale. They would tell me about their grievances, which were resolved by my husband when he was alive. While I was always aware that he was helpful, I never realised the kind of issues he resolved.
These letters helped me understand that my husband was a ray of hope for the people and, to maintain that, my family will have to stand up for their rights. I shall fulfil all the dreams of the people, which is exactly what my husband wanted to, and used to, do. For me, politics is a new world. But my husband was more of a social worker than a politician, and I will march on the same path to maintain my husband’s image,” she added.
Suman’s daughter, Smita Patil, is currently pursuing her law degree from a Mumbai-based college. The 23-year-old said, “My mother never actively participated when my father was in politics. She rarely took part when my father would campaign. Instead, she would attend events related to women’s empowerment held in our constituency.
But people have proved today that they trust her, and it has encouraged her to work for their benefit.” “My father did not like that his constituency was tagged a drought-affected area. It was his dream to remove that stereotype from people’s minds and to make the constituency the best in the field of agriculture.
We will focus on the same issue, along with women’s empowerment and providing employment to youngsters,” she added. Election officer Hemant Nikam told mid-day, “Suman Patil won with a strong margin. The counting started at 8 am and was conducted peacefully. We announced the final result at 11.30 am.”
>> 1,31,236: Suman Patil (NCP)
>> 18,273: Swapnil Patil (independent)
>> 1,495: NOTA
Six consecutive wins
R R Patil passed away on February 16 at a Mumbai hospital following a prolonged illness. In October 2014, he had won the Tasgaon-Kavathe Mahankal assembly seat, which was his sixth consecutive victory. He had defeated former NCP leader, Ajit Ghorpade, who had contested on a BJP ticket, by 22,410 votes.