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R.R. Patil elected NCP Legislature Party leader

By Our Special Correspondent



The new legislature party leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, R.R. Patil, being congratulated by the general secretary, Tariq Anwar (left), on being elected Deputy Chief Minister in Mumbai on Friday. - PTI

MUMBAI, OCT. 29. Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, president of the Maharashtra unit of the Nationalist Congress Party and former Home Minister, was today elected leader of the NCP Legislature Party.

The Maratha leader from Tasgaon in western Maharashtra's sugar beltwill be the new Deputy Chief Minister.

Consensus candidate

Although a secret ballot was held, the counting of votes was put off as all other candidates, including the favourite, Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, Deputy Chief Minister, opted for consensus and unanimity, the NCP's central observer, Tariq Anwar, told reporters.

Mr. Mohite-Patil proposed Mr. R.R. Patil's name and the other contenders, Padamsinh Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and the Finance Minister, Jayant Patil, seconded it. Mr. Anwar denied that the decision to go for consensus was taken after it was found that Mr. Patil had polled more votes than others. He insisted that counting was not done at all. However, an inside source said that 84 legislators, including 70 MLAs and 14 MLCs, attended the meeting. Of these, Mr. Patil polled over 50 votes.

Mr. Anwar said the legislators had earlier authorised the NCP president, Sharad Pawar, to select the legislature party leader but he refused, saying the legislators should elect their leader. By doing so, he broke the old tradition of imposing a leader from above and upheld "inner party democracy."

The newly-elected leader of the NCP legislature party, Mr. R.R. Patil, said that only the NCP could give such an opportunity to the son of an ordinary farmer. He said his thrust areas would be promotion of agriculture and industry in the State with a view to generating employment opportunities, besides maintenance of law and order and taking care of the weaker sections of society and minorities.

The 48-year-old Mr. Patil began his political career as a member of the Sangli district panchayat in 1979. He was elected to the Assembly from Tasgaon in 1995 and won the Best Legislator award of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association the next year.

In 1999, he became the Rural Development and Water Supply Minister. Last year, Mr. Patil got the Home portfolio held by Mr. Bhujbal after the latter quit in the wake of the Telgi scam.

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