Sangli mourns the death of its 'Aaba'

Local leaders and villagers wept inconsolably as news of former home minister R R Patil’s death streamed in yesterday; the NCP leader’s mortal remains will be brought to his house in Anjani village today

Former Maharashtra Home Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Raosaheb Ramrao Patil died from cancer in Lilavati Hospital yesterday, leading to a wave of grief in his hometown Anjani, situated in Tasgaon taluka, Sangli district. He was 57.

A file pic of R R Patil shaking hands with people gathered at Gateway of India, on December 31, 2010. He was the then state home minister
A file pic of R R Patil shaking hands with people gathered at Gateway of India, on December 31, 2010. He was the then state home minister

Patil had been battling oral cancer owing to his habit of chewing tobacco, and had undergone treatment for it in December 2014 at Breach Candy Hospital. He had been on ventilator support at Lilavati Hospital yesterday and his condition started to worsen in the evening.

A crowd gathered outside Patil’s house in Anjani village
A crowd gathered outside Patil’s house in Anjani village

As soon as news of his health condition reached Tasgaon, residents rushed to the temple to pray for his speedy recovery. However, the collective appeals to the Almighty were to go in vain, as around 4 pm news broke that Patil had breathed his last.

He is survived by his wife Suman, two daughters, Smita, who is pursuing her law degree, and Priyanka, an MBBS student, and a son, Rohit, a Std VII student. His brother, Suresh Patil, is a farmer, and another brother is in the police force.

Beloved leader
Anjani is a small village in Tasgaon, 12 km from Sangli, from where Patil kickstarted his political career as a zilla parishad leader. The six-term MLA from Tasgaon went on to become the home minister and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. As soon as news of his passing reached, the whole of Sangli district plunged into grief.

Shops, schools and colleges shut down and people rushed to his house in Anjani to pay their respects to ‘Aaba’, the Marathi term for a father figure. Patil’s mortal remains, which were kept at the NCP headquarters yesterday, will be brought to Sangli from Mumbai, and from there the body will be taken in a procession to his house in Anjani today.

Harshada Patil, a member of the panchayat samiti, Tasgaon said, “Fifteen days back, we had received a ray of hope that our Aaba is responding to treatment. We had planned to conduct a puja on Maha Shivratri on Tuesday. We rushed to the temple in Tasgaon and chanted god’s name for his recovery. But our Aaba passed away.”

Several villagers and local leaders were heard saying they had been orphaned following Patil’s demise. “We are orphans. Our messiah is gone and our issues will now be left unaddressed. Maharashtra has lost its Aaba. His dream was to make our village high-tech, and we have several education institutions in our village.

Despite being a politician, he was a farmer till the end. His mother, Bhagirathi, works on their agricultural land. His loss has deeply affected us,” claimed Khandu Pawar, NCP’s Tasgaon youth wing president. Tukaram Kumbhar (55), Patil’s friend from college days, told this paper, “He was soft-spoken, but aggressive nonetheless.

We had completed our law degree together and had planned to practice in court. We both took Sanad (licence to practice law) and consulted an astrologer to check for an auspicious day to start our career.

The astrologer suggested a Sunday, and on that day, Patil came dressed in black and white, entered the premises and only then realised it was a holiday. I never saw him in a courtroom again. But he approached me for legal help.”

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