Former Union Minister and Congress leader Eknathrao alias ‘Balasaheb’ Vikhe Patil passed away at his residence in Loni village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra this evening following prolonged illness, his family said. He was 84. Last rites of the veteran leader would be conducted with full state honours at Loni on Saturday noon, district collector Anil Kawade told PTI.
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Vikhe Patil largely kept away from public life in the last couple of years due to his illness. His son Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil is a senior Congress leader and currently the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
Though a Congressman most of his career, Balasaheb was elected to Lok Sabha on Shiv Sena ticket in 1998 and became Minister of State for Finance in the NDA government. He was subsequently elevated as Minister for Heavy Industries.
He returned to the Congress fold in 2004. His father, Vitthalrao Vikhe-Patil, was instrumental in setting up Asia’s first cooperative sugar mill at Loni.