Describing Marxist leader Jyoti Basu as a "tireless crusader against communalism" and a "warrior for social justice", Congress president Sonia Gandhi said Sunday that he was a towering personality.
In a letter to Jyoti Basu's son Chandan Basu, she said that Basu served his country, party and state with whole-hearted dedication for over half a century.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing away of your beloved father," she said in the letter.
Gandhi said Jyoti Basu was "a tireless crusader against communalism, fundamentalism, casteism and all kinds of obscurantism; a warrior for social justice and equality and for the eradication of poverty; a true patriot who always put the national interest above all else".
"He was a towering figure of our national life, whose noble vision, superb judgement and depth of experience was valued greatly."
The Congress president said Basu "did not go gentley into the night - he fought bravely until his last breath, just as he did throughout his life. And what a rich, fulfilled and glorious life he had".
She said he contributed to the formation of United Progressive Alliance government in 2004. "We continued to count on him for his wise counsel even after he retired from political life," she said adding that his demise had left millions of his political followers throughout the country feeling bereft.
"Together with Indiraji and Rajivji, I held him in the highest esteem. I have warmest memories of our many meetings - of his charm and grace and his deep humanity."