Kolhapur: At the ripe age of 94, Congress candidate Satgonda Revgonda Patil is fit, agile, sprightly and alert, putting many rivals and even his own partymen to shame as he moves from villages and hamlets across the Shirol assembly seat in his campaign for the Oct 15 elections.
"Being disciplined and serving the people is like a way of life now. I have been in public life for the last more than 70 years," Patil smiles, almost making it sound like an eternity to his army of young activists struggling to keep apace with him at times.
Satgonda Revgonda Patil
Famous as Appasaheb Patil and the owner of a sugar mill here, he is respected and revered by politicians cutting across parties and caste lines spanning all generations as he undertakes a grueling, merciless campaign for re-election.
"My body is fit, my mind works like anybody else and I love working among the people. I am thankful to my party for reposing faith in me over youngsters," Patil said of the Congress whose vice president Rahul Gandhi is less than half his age!
With nine major candidates lined up against him, Patil's style is not cramped in the heat and dust of October, dressed as he is in his trademark white shirt, white trousers, and a white golf cap (like the one the legendary Dev Anand used to sport).
Scores of times in a day, he boards and alights from his SUV to meet people, talk to them and bless them - as even old men and women fall at his feet - as he seeks their support.
Born Dec 21, 1921, Patil is not new to the grime of electoral politics. Nearly half a century back, he contested as an independent in the 1957 elections and won.
After that, he never contested for four decades but dedicated himself to social work in the prosperous district of western Maharashtra.
In 1999, when he again entered the election fray, and won handsomely, but was trounced in 2004, only to bounce back to the legislature in 2009 - when he was 89!
Patil manages the Shree Datta Shetkari Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd and has travelled to nearly three dozen countries worldwide, besides bagging many national and international awards for his contribution to the cooperative sugar movement in Maharashtra.
Pitted against Patil this time, are the Shiv Sena's Ulhas Sambhaji, Nationalist Congress Party's Rajendra Shamgonda Patil and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana's Savkar Madnaik.