Four years ago, when the 26/11 terror attacks took place while he was state home minister, RR Patil was asked to step down.
On Wednesday, with the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 2008 attacks, being carried out under his tenure, Patil, who is again home
minister, has got political closure and perhaps a bit of luck just when he needs it.
Within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), knives have been out for him, especially after recent security disasters such as the Azad Maidan violence in August and the Pune blasts.
His party chief Sharad Pawar has publicly slammed his protégé, though without naming him, for failing to exert authority over his department.
Since then, there has been speculation that the NCP top brass is likely to shift Patil to another department.
But Kasab’s execution could change the scenario. “The hanging has generated good will for the minister and our party.
It would send a wrong signal if RR Patil is shunted out now. And a Cabinet reshuffle is just round the corner,” said a NCP minister.
The execution comes when the NCP has been pushed into a corner with allegations of scams against its senior leaders. Patil’s clean image is expected to work in his favour during the Cabinet reshuffle.
With the NCP top brass shielding senior ministers accused of graft, such as public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal and water resources minister Sunil Tatkare, questions will be raised if Patil is penalised.
In the state legislature too, the home minister stands in good stead now, after facing criticism from the Opposition for being 'soft on terror'.
Not all are, however, convinced that Patil should get credit for Operation X.
“It seems like the operation was successful because administrative and legal procedures were followed in toto. The credit should go to the officials and the police,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.
Patil, having learnt a lesson from the past, maintained silence when asked on Wednesday whether he felt vindicated as the execution had been carried out under his watch.
His statement to the media in Hindi in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks had been the trigger that cost him his job.
He had then said that 'such small incidents do happen in big cities'. After the execution, Patil reiterated that this statement had been taken out of context.
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