Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, the RSS and other Sangh Parivar organisations Saturday condoled the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in Mumbai and said it will be difficult to fill the void left by him.
BJP veteran L.K. Advani, party chief Nitin Gadkari, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi were among the leaders who paid tributes to Thackeray. The Shiv Sena has been an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra.
Advani said Thackeray was a great individual whose "imprint on the country's and state's (Maharashtra) politics has been indelible and deep".
"Uncompromising in his patriotism, he possessed remarkable qualities of leadership and abundance of attributes of head and heart which made him command great respect among all those who came in his contact," Advani said.
The BJP leader said Thackeray never compromised with the things he believed in. "I can only say that his demise today has left a gaping void in the country's politics which will not be easy to fill," the senuior BJP leader added.
Gadkari described Thackeray as a source of inspiration for him and an architect of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
"He was a staunch nationalist and a courageous politician who played a vital role in shaping the national politics as well as the politics of Maharashtra. His departure has left a void in the public life. His demise is a personal loss to me," Gadkari said.
Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter: "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead."
"His persona was as high and firm as the Himalayas. His death is an irreparable loss to the country. His departure has left a void which will never be filled," she told reporters.
Jaitley said Thackeray was one of the most charismatic leaders of his generation and uncompromising in his principles.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said Thackeray's demise was a loss to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and "a blow to Maharashtra and the NDA".
"It has ended an era. Till the time he lived, he lived like a lion. A leader like him is born after ages. The void can never be filled. His death has hurt the entire country," Hussain said.
Modi said Thackeray was a lively person who used to put in his best in a struggle and also showered affections in abundance.
"He kept himself away from the corridors of politics and built an entire political party. He never tolerated or compromised on patriotism," Modi said.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said Thackeray was a brave leader who had firm faith in Hindutva.
In a condolence message, RSS publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya said Thackeray had a grip on the pulse of people.
"Not only Shiv Sena but the entire Maharashtra and social and political life of the entire country has suffered a loss...I pay my heart felt condolences on behalf of the RSS and pray to almighty that all good men get inspiration to carry forward his legacy of Hindutva," Vaidya said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia said Thackeray had been an "inspiration and strength while taking up various Hindu causes".
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad also mourned the demise of Thackeray and said his actions turned the "status quo politics of Maharashtra upside down".