Veteran Congress leader Shivajirao Patil dead at 92



Congress leader, freedom fighter and former Maharashtra Minister Shivajirao Girdhar Patil, who was father of late National Award winning actress Smita Patil, died at a private hospital here on Saturday. He was 92.

A widower, Patil's wife had died in 2015 after 77 years of marriage. He is survived by two daughters, Anita Deshmukh and Manya Seth and grandson, Bollywood actor Pratiek Babbar - the son of Smita who had died in 1986.

Plunging into politics in his teens, the young firebrand Patil was attracted to communism in his school days in Dhule. At the age of 15, he was elected president of the Communist Party of India's student wing, All India Students Federation (AISF) in 1939.

Through the AISF and the CPI, he took part in several agitations during the struggle for Independence and was imprisoned for 12 years for various subversive activities.

After Independence he switched over to the Congress and was elected thrice to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, to the Legislative Council and served one term in the Rajya Sabha (1992-1998).

Handling various ministries during the tenures of Chief Ministers Vasantrao Naik, S.B. Chavan and Vasantrao Patil in the 1950s-1970s, he was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2013 for services to the cooperative movement in Maharashtra.

In between, he briefly flirted with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, but remained a Congressman at heart and committed to the cause of the cooperative sectors.

In 1996, on the 10th death anniversary of his actress daughter, he set up the 'Smita Patil Charitable Trust' which runs a public school in Dahiwad village of his native Dhule district imparting quality education to rural children.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences on his demise.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also condoled Patil's death, describing him "a stalwart of the cooperation movement" in the state.

"He made a significant contribution to the Indian freedom struggle. After Independence, he played a major role in politics, social, cooperation movement and education fields. His role in the development of the sugar cooperative sector brought international laurels," Fadnavis said in a message.

Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan expressed grief over Patil's death and said the masses have lost "a committed" leader who contributed immense to the political, social, cooperation and education sectors.

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar described him as a leader who "represented a generation, which was socially aware."

"He never let go of his commmitments to the cooperative movement and democratic idology," Pawar said in his message.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde also condoled the death of Patil in a message and said the state has lost a leader who developed society through agriculture and cooperation movement.

Condolence messages have come from the Congress's party units and Chief Ministers all over India and prominent leaders of different political parties. - IANS