Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari were among leaders from across the political spectrum who paid tributes to union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who died at a Chennai hospital Tuesday.
President Pranab Mukherjee also paid his tributes, while the union cabinet met Tuesday evening to condole Deshmukh's death.
The cabinet passed a resolution mourning Deshmukh’s "untimely" and "sad" demise and said he will
be given a state funeral, said a press statement.
The statement said Deshmukh was “a valued member” of the council of ministers.
“He was a grassroots political leader with extraordinary sensitivity to the people’s needs. He left an indelible mark in the ministries he worked in with his commitment and able leadership.”
It said Deshmukh handled his public responsibilities with tact, politeness and grace and was held in very high esteem across the political spectrum. “In his death, the country has lost a popular leader.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also extended her condolences to Deshmukh’s family.
In his condolence letter to Deshmukh's widow Vaishali, the prime minister said he has lost a "dear friend and a valued colleague who served the country with a passionate commitment for public good".
President Pranab Mukherjee, in his message, described Deshmukh as a "towering leader of Maharashtra" and "an esteemed colleague and a dear friend".
"The nation has lost a personality who was always in touch with the grassroots of society," Mukherjee said in a message to Deshmukh's widow.
Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari said Deshmukh was an able administrator
“In his death, I have lost a friend and Maharashtra a veteran politician”, Gadkari said.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said Deshmukh’s demise had come as a shock and was a great sense of loss for the party.
Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said Deshmukh’s journey from the village sarpanch to chief minister and union cabinet minister was admirable.
“In the death of Shri Deshmukh, not only the state of Maharashtra but the entire nation has lost a great leader and a promising statesman. Under his leadership, Maharashtra state could achieve tremendous progress in every sphere...I am sure his ideas and ideals will continue to inspire the people of the country,” Pawar said.
BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Deshmukh was warm-hearted and cheerful and always ready for helping (others). "He had a vision for Maharashtra and was equally concerned about farmers and youngsters," he said.
Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar, who was Deshmukh's deputy, said Deshmukh was a great human being.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said it was "very unfortunate to lose such a promising leader at a young age."
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said Deshmukh's demise had caused him a lot of pain.
Deshmukh, a former Maharashtra chief minister and science and technology minister in the union government, was awaiting liver and kidney transplants when he died. He was 67.