Maharashtra housing minister Prakash Mehta took a pledge to quit chewing tobacco during the condolence meet held for former home minister RR Patil on Friday.
Mehta took out a tobacco pouch out of his pocket and put it in front of Patil’s portrait, and also announced a “war against tobacco chewing”.
Patil, a senior nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, died on February 16 following a three-month long battle against oral cancer.
“RR Patil and I, along with a few other legislators, were identified as the tobacco chewing group in the assembly. We tried lot to quit, but never succeeded. However, Patil’s untimely death has forced us to think again. I pledge that I will take all possible measures from today to ensure that I do not consume tobacco anymore,” Mehta said.
The minister also revealed that Patil, while being under treatment, had sought assurance from him that he would not consume tobacco.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, state legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, revenue minister Eknath Khadse, transport minister Diwakar Raote, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre, and RPI president Ramdas Athawale were present at meet held at KC College.
Pawar also appealed to the authorities to put restrictions on consumption of tobacco products.
“It is difficult for us to come to terms that he [Patil] is no more. Despite being aware of the gravity of the disease, he delayed getting treatment,” he said.
Raote said he planned to start a campaign and use the late leader’s picture in state transport buses to create awareness. “We need to take permission from his family before going ahead with the proposal,” he said.