Anjani (Maharashtra), Feb 17: Thousands of people today bid a tearful adieu to R R Patil as the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister was cremated with state honours.
Those present at the NCP leader's native village to pay their last respects included Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, former CM Prithviraj Chavan and social activist Anna Hazare besides several leaders across parties and many of Patil's former cabinet colleagues.
Thousands assembled at the cremation site and shouted slogans "R R Patil Amar Rahe" as his son Rohit, accompanied by Patil's two daughters --Smita and Supriya-- lit the funeral pyre.
The body of Patil, who died in Mumbai after a prolonged battle with cancer, was brought here this morning and taken to his residence. It was later taken to the agricultural produce market committee where thousands of people, including several women offered their last respects.
The funeral procession began from the Chowk area and the vehicle carrying Patil's body reached the helipad ground, near which the last rites were performed. The government has declared a day's mourning in the state today as a mark of respect for the departed leader.
Patil, described as a gentleman politician by many, was instrumental in banning dance bars in the state and initiating the cleanliness campaign. After the drubbing in the October 15 polls, NCP had pinned its hopes on the 58-year old leader for its revival as Patil was among the few senior leaders with a clean image.
In a condolence speech at the funeral venue, Sharad Pawar said Patil performed the responsibilities assigned to him with elan, be it in opposition or as a minister. "He set an example of how a taint-free home minister can be," Pawar said, referring to Patil's clean image.
"There was not a single tehsil in Maharashtra where he did not build a strong force of party workers," he said.