Thousands bid adieu to R R Patil

Anjani (Maharashtra): Thousands of people today bid a tearful adieu to R R Patil as the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister was cremated here with state honours.

Those present at the NCP leader's native village to pay their last respects included Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, former CM Prithviraj Chavan and social activist Anna Hazare besides several leaders across parties and many of Patil's former cabinet colleagues.

Late NCP Leader RR Patil's daughter Smita and wife pay homage to RR Patil at party office, who died at Lilavati hospital in Mumbai on Monday. Pic/ PTI

Thousands assembled at the cremation site and shouted slogans "R R Patil Amar Rahe" as his son Rohit, accompanied by Patil's two daughters --Smita and Supriya-- lit the funeral pyre.

The body of Patil, who died in Mumbai after a prolonged battle with cancer, was brought here this morning and taken to his residence. It was later taken to the agricultural produce market committee where thousands of people, including several women offered their last respects.

The funeral procession began from the Chowk area and the vehicle carrying Patil's body reached the helipad ground, near which the last rites were performed. The government has declared a day's mourning in the state today as a mark of respect for the departed leader.

Patil, described as a gentleman politician by many, was instrumental in banning dance bars in the state and initiating the cleanliness campaign. After the drubbing in the October 15 polls, NCP had pinned its hopes on the 58-year old leader for its revival as Patil was among the few senior leaders with a clean image.

In a condolence speech at the funeral venue, Sharad Pawar said Patil performed the responsibilities assigned to him with elan, be it in opposition or as a minister. "He set an example of how a taint-free home minister can be," Pawar said, referring to Patil's clean image. "There was not a single tehsil in Maharashtra where he did not build a strong force of party workers," he said.

Fadnavis said there can be no greater sorrow than Patil's demise. "His speeches in legislature were memorable. He worked for the common man. Aaba will continue to inspire everyone," he said.

Leaders including Pawar and Fadnavis met Patil's mother, wife, children and other family members and consoled them. Former ministers Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil were among Patil's pall bearers.

NCP leader Dilip Walse Patil said it was Patil's desire that no traditional religious ceremonies be held on 10th and 13th day after his cremation. As such, there will only be the raksha (ashes) collection ceremony on February 19 at the venue of the cremation, he added.

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