Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, who was home minister during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, passed away on Monday evening after a three-month-long battle with cancer, a party official said.
He was 57.
Patil, of the Nationalist Congress Party, is survived by his mother, wife and two daughers. He breathed his last at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra where he had been undergoing chemotherapy for the past few weeks and put on life-support systems early Monday.
NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said Patil’s body will be kept in state at the party headquarters Monday evening and later taken to his native village Anjani in Tasgaon area of Sangli district in south-west Maharashtra.
The last rites will be performed Tuesday afternoon in Tasgaon where Patil was born, grew, harboured his political roots and was elected six times to the Maharashtra legislature.
According to official sources, Patil will be accorded a state funeral and the state government has declared a day of state mourning.
An icon for his clean and uncorrupt image besides easy access to the masses and party activists, Patil, a lawyer by profession, was among the most trusted advisors of NCP president Sharad Pawar who supported him through all thick and thin.
“My life is influenced by the late Yashwantrao Chavan, the late Vasantrao Patil and my inspiration is Sharad Pawar. Under his able guidance, I am trying to inculcate fearlessness and faith in people of Maharashtra through my police force,” Patil said a few years ago.
Patil started as a young politician in his home district and was elected to the Sangli Zilla Parishad from 1979-1990.
Since his maiden election on a Congress ticket to the assembly in 1990, Patil first became a NCP minister in the Congress-NCP government with the important rural development portfolio.
In 2003, he was given the critical home department following the resignation of the then deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal after allegations were leveled against him in the Telgi fake stamp papers scam.
Impressed by his performance, the party bosses elevated as deputy chief minister the following year (2004).
However, Patil had to quit his post as home minister in 2008 following some off-the-cuff remarks after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which created a furore in political circles.
Patil bounced back as home minister for a second term in 2009 and continued till the Congress-NCP coalition was voted out in the 2014 assembly elections.
He also served twice as NCP state president and among his important decisions as home minister were the controversial ban on the dance bars in Mumbai and Maharashtra in 2005 and the much-hailed insurance scheme for police personnel in the state and scheme to adopt tribal children to bring them to the social mainstream.
Pawar, state NCP president Sunil Tatkare, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, state president Manikrao Thakre and other top leaders cutting across party lines condoled the demise of Patil and paid glowing tributes to his memory.