Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s mortal remains were on Monday consigned to flames with full state honors amidst the presence of dignitaries including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat at the “Ekta Sthal” – a site adjacent to the Rajghat “samadhi” area.
Vedic hymns rent the air as the funeral pyre was lit by the deceased socialist leader’s sons Pankaj Singh and Neeraj Singh in the presence of other family members including Chandrashekhar’s two surviving brothers Kripa Singh and Badri Singh.
A wreath on behalf of President APJ Abdul Kalam was placed at the body of the late Prime Minister who passed away on Sunday at New Delhi’s Apollo Hospitals after a long battle against blood cancer.
A 21-gun salute was presented to Chandrashekhar and a tri-services contingent presented the 'Last Post', reversing their guns upside down as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
Wrapped in the Indian tricolor, Chandrashekhar’s body was brought from his official residence at South Avenue Lane in a flower-bedecked gun carriage in a procession passing through Maulana Azad Road, Akbar Road, India Gate and Delhi Gate before reaching the Rajghat samadhi area. Crowds burst out into intermittent spells of “Chandrashekhar Amar Rahein” (Long Live Chandrashekhar).
Floral tributes were placed at the funeral pyre by a host of leaders including former Prime Ministers AB Vajpayee, HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
Chiefs of the three defense forces also attended. The Bihar government, incidentally, has announced a three-day state mourning from Monday as a mark of respect to the departed leader.