Sharad Pawar chided RR Patil repeatedly for his tobacco habit

Feb 17, 2015, 07:29 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Jayant Karanjavkar, former PRO of R R Patil, recalls how it took repeated reprimanding from the NCP chief to get him to quit his tobacco habit; the ex-home minister died from cancer

“I would often hold saheb’s hand when he filled his palms with tobacco to consume. But it was an old habit that he had picked up from friends who surrounded him during his political career,” recalled Jayant Karanjavkar, who was former home minister R R Patil’s public relations officer (PRO) for nine years, beginning 2000.

Former home minister R R Patil passed away yesterday. He was 57. File pic.
Former home minister R R Patil passed away yesterday. He was 57. File pic

Patil died yesterday from cancer in Lilavati Hospital at the age of 57. His body was kept at the NCP headquarters in Nariman Point for people to pay their last respects. The six-term MLA from Tasgaon, Sangli, had been undergoing treatment for oral cancer.

Former union minister, Praful Patel, and several other top leaders paid their respects yesterday. Pics/Shadab Khan
Former union minister, Praful Patel, and several other top leaders paid their respects yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

Karanjavkar said it took a great amount of coaxing from his end and repeated chiding from party chief Sharad Pawar to get Patil to kick his tobacco addiction around 2005. “I do not know if he went back to his old habits after my retirement in 2009,” said the 64-year-old, now an active political journalist with major Marathi newspapers.

“He would often work long hours with tobacco in his mouth. He would, on an average, meet at least two hundred people after office hours. Even after the last person had left, he would hang around to see if anyone had been not attended to before leaving for his house, Chitrakoot at Malabar Hill, where he lived alone for over fifteen years,” Karanjkar told this paper.

He added that he was too shocked to even attend his last rites, which will be conducted today in Anjani, Patil’s native village. Patil was also revered for his clean image, though he courted controversies through his statements on many occasions.

The former PRO recalled another incident, in which Patil found himself having to take to the microphone after superstar Amitabh Bachchan, at the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Natya Sammelan in Dombivli. Patil was reluctant, thinking the audience would be bored after hearing Bachchan.

“I boosted his morale by citing Sachin Tendulkar, who turned into a different person on field and let his bat do the talking. It turned out well; the crowds and Bachchan cheered at his speech. Sharad Pawar was seated next to Bachchan, translating his (Patil) speech. It was after this incident that we became friends and the distance between a boss and his employee vanished,” said Karanjavkar.

- With inputs from Agencies


Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
My thoughts are with Shri R R Patil’s family. (I) am saddened to know of his demise, which leaves a void in Maharashtra politics.

Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra CM
Patil was a sensitive leader for whom welfare of the common man was a prime concern. The state required many more years of service from him.

Sharad Pawar, NCP Chief
His death is a great loss to Maharashtra and NCP, and a great personal loss to me. Above all, he was a very good human being.

Patil, the press and J Dey
“Patil was sensitive to the issues concerning journalists. Whether it was attacks on mediapersons, or the wrongful arrest of a journalist, he proactively intervened to see there was no discrimination against the Fourth Estate. In cases like the killing of investigative journalist J Dey or the suicide by corporate communication professional Charu Deshpande, he directed the police to investigate the cases with vigour.”
- Mumbai Press Club

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