A veteran Peasants and Workers Party leader ND Patil, who spent seven decades for the protection of interests of farmers, mill-workers, casual labourers, deprived, downtrodden and women and also against injustice met out to them, passed away following a brief illness in Kolhapur on Monday. He was 93 years old.
Patil joined the PWP in 1948 and remained in the party till his last breath. Notwithstanding his party’s limited presence in the state, Patil never thought of becoming a part of ‘’ayaram gayaram’’ culture but continued his fight amid a lot of odds.
Patil did not succumb to political pressure but led from the front in agitations against superstition, recovery of toll in Kolhapur, the infamous Enron Power project amongst others. He was at the forefront to press for the resolution of the Maharashtra Karnataka Border Dispute.
Patil, a fiery leader, was related to NCP Chief Sharad Pawar but their relationship did not prove a barrier for him to continue his fight against corruption and probity in public life. Despite Pawar being the chief minister and actively pursuing the Enron Power project, Patil strongly opposed it. He continued his fight after the Shiv Sena-BJP government dumped the Enron project and again revived it.
Known for clarity in his thoughts and no-nonsense attitude, Patil never compromised on any issue he took up to gain brownie points. Patil was a strong opponent of the globalisation pursued by the successive governments since 1991, citing the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.
Patil was an ex-cabinet minister and a four-time legislator and served as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council for four terms, and served as a minister from 1978-1990. Pawar, who visited Kolhapur to pay tribute to Patil, said a principled and selfless leader, who had faith in the working class, is lost. "He raised voice in the legislature for issues of the marginalised class," Pawar said. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said Maharashtra has lost a leader who dedicated his life to the cause of farmers and workers.
Patil was the torchbearer of the movements launched by the social reformers Mahatma Phule and Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said Patil boldly solved many problems of farmers and workers. He also fought hard for the rights of the mill workers. With his demise, the visionary leader has been lost.