R R Patil remembered for cleanliness campaign

Leaders across the political parties today recalled late R R Patil with NCP chief Sharad Pawar noting that Patil initiated cleanliness campaign in Maharashtra much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his Swachch Bharat campaign.

"The cleanliness drive which the PM has initiated was introduced in Maharashtra by Patil (when he was rural development minister) in 1999," Pawar said at the all-party condolence meeting for the departed leader here this evening.

"As the home minister, Patil initiated the dispute-free village campaign," Pawar said, adding that he used the parliamentary tools in the state legislature to put forth the issues of people.

Patil, who had oral cancer, died here on February 16. Pawar said leaders of all the parties should initiate an action plan to fight the menace of cancer.

Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, who hails from Sangli, Patil's home district, said the new generation will benefit if Patil's speeches were published.

A trust should be formed by all party leaders in his memory to help upcoming political activists, Deshmukh said.

BJP leader and state Housing Minister Prakash Mehta said he had decided to quit tobacco as a mark of respect for Patil.

"From today not consuming tobacco and not allowing others to consume it will be the real tribute to Patil," he said.

Revenue Minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse said he will cherish his friendship with Patil despite their political rivalry.

RPI leader Ramdas Athawale said Patil had an immense clout in Maharashtra politics.

Former chief minister Narayan Rane said Patil, who entered Assembly with him 25 years ago, used the calling attention notices effectively to raise issues of public interest.

Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said his party, Shiv Sena, holds the health portfolio and will try to impose curbs on tobacco consumption.

"The cleanliness drive initiated at the state transport bus depots has been named after Patil," Raote said. Raote also lauded the mega-police recruitment drive launched by Patil and his eagerness to accept guardian minister-ship of Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district when he was the home minister.

State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said Patil's oratory helped the Congress-NCP to come to power in 1999. The government should take strong steps for banning tobacco as a real tribute to Patil, Thakre said.

RPI leader Rajendra Gavai said the government should set up a cancer hospital named after the former deputy CM and home minister.

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