President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday led the nation in mourning the death of veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu. Tributes poured in from politicians across the country.
While Patil said "the nation has lost a veteran and eminent public figure," Manmohan Singh said Basu was a politician to whom he often turned for "sagacious advice".
Basu was a leader "who displayed his abilities as a leader of the people, an able administrator and eminent statesman", the president said in a statement.
"In the years after he relinquished the chief ministership, he continued to be looked upon as an elder statesman, whose advice was sought by many political leaders in the state," she added.
The 95-year-old leader died in Kolkata Sunday after a prolonged illness.
In a message to Jyoti Basu's son Chandan, Manmohan Singh said: "He was a powerful regional voice in the national political scene and helped to strengthen Indian federalism... He was a man of great integrity with a deep commitment to secular values."
"I have personally had a very long association with Basu. On many occasions in my career, I turned to him for his sagacious advice on all matters, whether they related to West Bengal or to issues of national importance," he added.
Vice President Hamid Ansari said Basu had left behind a void that would be difficult to fill. "His sagacity and leadership at both the state and the national level have been a source of inspiration and guidance," Ansari said in a statement.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that Basu led for several years expressed "profound grief", saying he was a Marxist who was not dogmatic.
"Jyoti Basu was a Marxist who never wavered in his convictions. He was a Marxist who was not dogmatic and continued to learn from his vast experience in charting out the course for the party," the CPI-M politburo said.
"There will be none like Jyoti Basu again," was how CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat Sunday saluted a man he prevented from becoming the prime minister in 1996.
Karat, who influenced the CPI-M to block Basu from taking charge of the United Front government in 1996, said that the former West Bengal chief minister "was a great leader of the CPI-M, the Left movement and India. With his passing away, an era has passed".
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja paid glowing tributes to the Marxist patriarch, saying he could have proved to be a great prime minister.
"He (Basu) proved that the coalition of Left parties would work successfully and serve the people greatly. He could have proved to be a great prime minister also," Raja said.
Former Lok Sabha speaker and Communist leader Somnath Chatterjee said he had lost someone like his father.
"When things started to go bad (in Left front), he was sad. He was sad about what happened with me. I used to consult him on all matters. For the second time, I have lost somebody like my father," said an emotional Chatterjee.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said he would miss a well-wisher.
"In his death, I lost a great well-wisher, the country has lost an able administrator, an outstanding parliamentarian and a charismatic political leader," Mukherjee told reporters.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee called for a 72-hour mourning in West Bengal.
"He was the first and last chapter of the Communist movement in India," she said after emerging out of the AMRI hospital in Kolkata. "He (Basu) will be remembered for his political achievements because of his pioneering role in the country's Left movement."
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the staunchest anti-Communist force in the country, mourned the death of the Marxist leader, describing him as a "role model for Indian politics".
In a moving tribute, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told reporters here that Basu, who was West Bengal's chief minister for 23 long years, was one of the "tallest leaders" in Indian politics with "high credibility".
"He was devoted to his ideology and played the longest innings in Indian politics," Jaitley said.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters in Kolkata: "He was a colossus who straddled India's political scene for many decades. Not only the leader of West Bengal, but of India. He was a great patriot, great democrat, great parliamentarian and great source of inspiration. He served the people of India to the best," he said.
Former prime minister and senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Basu's demise had "ended a chapter in the country's politics".