Mourning the sad demise of their spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba, politicians cutting across party lines thronged his ashram at Puttaparthi on Sunday to pay homage.
The 84-year-old spiritual leader died after a prolonged illness at Puttaparthi at 7.40am on Sunday.
The spiritual guru’s most ardent devotee was two-time chief minister and former Union home minister SB Chavan, who was instrumental in spreading Sai’s circle of disciples in state’s political corridors.
His son and former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who had come under flak for hosting the Sai Baba at his official residence in 2009, soon after taking over as the chief minister, said that Sathya Sai Baba’s death was a “moment of grief” for him and his family, which shares a long relationship with the Baba.
“Sai Baba was a living God for all of us. He was the strength of people, in and around the world,” former chief minister Chavan said.
Grieving over Sai Baba’s death, former chief minister and Union rural development minister Deshmukh said, “We have lost a great pious personality. His contribution to social causes was immeasurable. I sought his guidance whenever I was distressed. He was my guru.”
Former Lok Sabha speaker and Punjab governor Shivraj Patil, who didn’t miss an opportunity to seek Sai Baba’s blessings, said he derived immense strength from Sai Baba. “I have no words to express my grief.”
Patil had said that it was due to Sai Baba’s blessings that he could preside over as the speaker of the Lok Sabha. He had once said whenever the House would get unruly, he would shut his eyes and think of Baba and Baba would inevitably lead the House to order.
State rural development minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil was grieving too.
He once survived a fatal accident when he was travelling to Puttaparthi. He had thanked Sai Baba for saving his life then.
Former chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde, an ardent devotee of the Sai Baba, said, “His organisations have supported variety of institutions, hospitals and other charitable works in India and abroad. It is tremendous loss for all.”
State public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, “He will always remain in everybody’s hearts through his preaching and thoughts.
State Congress president Manikrao Thackeray said Sai Baba’s passing away is a great loss. “I had the privilege to meet him personally on two occasions and his words and deeds have always inspired me. I am saddened by the loss,” he said. (With inputs from PTI)