Patil's decisions were controversial, but brought about reforms

  • Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2015 00:49 IST

In his ministerial tenure of about 15 years, RR Patil was home minister for more than nine years, the longest any home minister served in the state. His decisions, right from the ban on dance bars to health schemes for the police, have always made headlines.

However, Patil came to be associated the most with the dance bar ban. The argument made in the Assembly was that youngsters were ruining their lives by splurging money at such places. Though the decision was commended by political parties and a few sections of society, Patil also faced his share of criticism and was accused of moral policing.

The ban was first quashed by the Bombay high court in 2006 and then by the Supreme Court in 2013, which termed the decision unconstitutional. Patil, however, was determined to continue the ban by weeding out loopholes in the legal provisions.

The former minister also did not hesitate from taking on encounter specialists, many of whom were accused of amassing wealth, even joining hands with builders or gangsters, in the police department. Patil soon cut them to size and disciplined the force.

Despite assurance, Patil could not provide housing to police personnel. However, he started the cashless health service in leading private hospitals, which proved to be a huge success.

It was his statement after the 26/11 terror attack that landed Patil in a soup. During a press conference, Patil had said, “badein shahron mein chhoti chhoti batein hoti rahti hai [small things keep happening in big cities like Mumbai]”.

He paid a heavy price for the comment. Following public outrage, he had to resign as home minister. But he was re-inducted for the same position in October 2009 after the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came back to power in the state.

Apart from home, the only other department Patil headed was rural development. His pet scheme, the Gadge Maharaj Gram Swachata Abhiyan, which was launched in 2000, proved to be a huge success. Thousands of villages participated in the cleanliness scheme and ended up joining hands for other welfare schemes.

His dream project, the Mahatma Gandhi Tanta Mukti Gaon Mohim, an initiative for dispute-free villages, saw many cases being solved out of court, thus saving the cost and time of litigation.

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