Meena Menon

R.R. Patil had a controversial tenure as Deputy Chief Minister

The four-time MLA will be known for his moral policing

Some of his utterances proved embarrassing to his party

MUMBAI: Deputy Chief Minister Raosaheb Rao Patil, 50, who resigned on Monday, had a controversial tenure. On Sunday, after he reportedly told the Chief Minister that there was no reason for him to put in his papers, he had to quit. The four-time MLA from Tasgaon in Sangli district will always be known for his moral policing and as the man who closed down bars and put hundreds of dancers out of their jobs. Some of them allegedly committed suicide.

Mr. Patil, called “Aba” (father in Marathi), and a law graduate, often shot his mouth off to the media and some of his utterances proved embarrassing to his party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the government. For instance, he told reporters in Hindi after the latest terror strike in the city that “small incidents like this always happen in big cities.” The media turned the statement into a severe indictment of his lack of sensibilities. Then he announced that the terrorists had come to kill 5,000 people, so heavily armed were they.

Many of his unsubstantiated statements landed him in trouble, especially after the Raj Thackeray incidents. He would promise action and then do nothing. He was in the dock for not taking immediate action against the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader and his posturing after recent events where the MNS beat up students has only muddied his image. His inability to enforce security in the State, which has witnessed a large number of communal riots, at least three this year, apart from the bomb blast at Malegaon, did not help.

He launched the Mahatma Gandhi Tanta Mukt Abhiyan (trouble-free villages) under which problems could be solved by a committee consisting of local people and the police. This led to a lot of issues and people complained that they were not allowed to file police complaints in serious cases.

After the recent terror strikes, there was a revival of criticism against Mr. Patil. Public sentiments ran high and people asked Mr. Patil to clean up terrorists instead of targeting helpless bar dancers. Mr. Patil banned bar dancers on August 15, 2005, causing widespread protest and indignation. A year later, the High Court overturned the ban, which has been challenged by the government in the Supreme Court. Mr. Patil has, however, allowed the traditional ‘lavani’ dancers to work till 1 a.m.

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