Other States

Veteran Maharashtra leader N.D. Patil no more

Maharashtra’s senior most political leader, a towering figure in state’s social reform and left movement and a Marxist whose unwavering loyalty to the cause of the downtrodden was always mentioned with utmost respect even by his opponents, Professor N.D. Patil, breathed his last at his hometown Kolhapur in western Maharashtra on Monday. He was 92.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in his condolence message said that in the demise of N.D. Patil, Maharashtra has lost its voice. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said that the state has lost a principled leader who remained committed to farmers and workers till his last breath. Patil’s last rites will be carried out on Tuesday under state honors.

Born in erstwhile Satara district on July 15, 1929, Patil’s tehsil Walva in today’s Sangli district was a base of revolutionary activities against British and social reform movements such as Satyashodhak samaj. Raised in the company of likes of Krantisinh Nana Patil, founder of revolutionary prati-Sarkar, Patil’s childhood was spent surrounded by Communists and rationalists alike.

A student of Rayat Shikshan Sanstha, founded by Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil to spread education among Bahujans and which Patil went on to lead for over half-decade later, Patil has been a part of every single agitation held in Maharashtra right from the freedom movement. He was not only the witness of Maharashtra’s every social, political, economical movement in last 70 years but was active participant.

Samyukta Maharashtra movement, free Goa struggle, mill workers’ issue, ek Gaav ek panvatha (one village, one water tank) to ensure Dalits are not boycotted from fetching water, the struggle of landless, farmers, fight for value to farm produce, movements against land acquisition, Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, agitation to support name change of Marathwada university to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar university, anti-Enron struggle, leading the anti-superstition movement, anti-SEZ movement in Raigad, fight against sugar barons to ensure money to farmers and latest being the iconic anti-toll movement in Kolhapur are just few movements of which Patil was a part of.

A life-long Marxist and a leader Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), Patil started his politics as a newspaper vendor who used to sell party mouthpiece. He was an MLC for 18 years and worked as an MLA for 23 years. He was also Maharashtra’s cooperation minister for a brief period. Despite being a close relative of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar (their respective wives are sisters), Patil never stopped himself from launching a fierce critic of his party’ s politics and policies. In the times of majoritarian politics, Patil’s fierce attack as opposition leader against the state’s Congress government with absolute majority and forcing them to retract on a number of decisions throw light on the political ethics of the bygone era.

His unapologetic, straightforward and sharp critic of the ruling class came from his unyielding commitment and honesty. No security could stop him from entering Mantralaya neither he needed an appointment to barge in to minister’s cabin. From Sharad Pawar to Devendra Fadnavis, no Chief minister could make him bend or make adjustments.

His rationalistic views made him a strong supporter of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) founded by late Dr Narendra Dabholkar of which he was the president. He remained atheist for his entire life. Patil, till his last years, remained a leader to whom any worker of rights movement could go and seek help.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 5:53:39 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/veteran-maharashtra-leader-nd-patil-no-more/article38282270.ece