Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday mourned the death of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, saying he was an "ideal chief minister who was a role model for other states" and an outstanding leader.
"Andhra Pradesh has lost a chief minister who was marked by his dynamism, by his sense of vision and sense of commitment to the ideal and ideas dear to the Congress party," the prime minister told reporters in New Delhi after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision making organ of the party.
Earlier, in a personal touch to a condolence message he sent to the chief minister's wife Vijayalaxmi, the prime minister said in the death of Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, he had lost a valued colleague on whom he "depended for support and ideas".
Describing him as a "natural leader who was loved equally by the public, his colleagues and the common man", Manmohan Singh said, "It was with a deep sense of grief and personal loss" that he learnt of YSR's "tragic and untimely demise".
The chief minister died in a helicopter crash and his severely burnt body was found on Thursday along with four others.
"The void his passing away has left behind will never be filled," Manmohan Singh said.
"Rajasekharaji died as he lived - in the service of the people of Andhra Pradesh and the country. In his untimely passing away, the state of Andhra Pradesh has lost an outstanding leader, and the country has lost an ideal chief minister who was a role model for other states," Manmohan Singh said in a statement issued here.
"I have lost a valued colleague on whom I depended for support and ideas. Rajasekharaji's life was one of tireless commitment and service to the people, especially the poor and the underprivileged. His legacy will live on and will inspire many others in the times to come," he said.
Manmohan Singh praised Reddy for his "innovative programmes for the benefit of farmers and the downtrodden." Under his leadership, Andhra Pradesh emerged as a "role model" for other states.
He said YSR had distinguished himself in every position in his long and illustrious political career.
The prime minister said YSR was elected to the state legislative assembly at the young age of 28 and was a member of the Lok Sabha for four terms.
Saying his contribution to the Congress party was "immense"; Manmohan Singh said he led the party to two consecutive victories in Andhra Pradesh.
"As president of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee, he undertook a historic padayatra in 1998 which endeared him to the people of the state," he said.
"As a chief minister, Rajasekharaji will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to the development of Andhra Pradesh and his administrative acumen. All his actions were guided by his deep sensitivity to the problems of the poor and the needy," he added.
The prime minister said his wife Gursharan Kaur joined him in extending their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.
"I pray to god to give you the strength and the fortitude to guide you in this hour of profound personal loss," the prime minister said.