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Vilasrao Deshmukh dies: PM, Sonia Gandhi to attend funeral

Union minister and former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh who died at a Chennai hospital today will be cremated at his native Babhalgaon village in Latur tomorrow. PM Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will attend the funeral.Vilasrao Deshmukh passes away | Who was Vilasrao Deshmukh | Amit Deshmukh to step into his father’s shoes

india Updated: Aug 14, 2012 21:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who died at a Chennai hospital on Tuesday will be cremated at his native Babhalgaon village in Latur on Wednesday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will attend the funeral.

Union ministers Sharad Pawar and Sushilkumar Shinde will also be present, sources said. AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi confirmed the visit of Gandhi.

The sources said that Singh will also visit Deshmukh's native place Babhalgaon in Maharashtra, where the cremation will take place.

Meanwhile, a meeeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister passed a resolution condoling Deshmukh's death and hailing him as a "grassroots political leader" with extraordinary sensitivity to the people's needs.

"Deshmukh was a valued Member of the Union Cabinet. He handled his public responsibilities with tact, politeness and grace. He was held in very high esteem across the political spectrum. In his death, the country has lost a popular leader," the Cabinet resolution said.

The Cabinet decided that Deshmukh will be given state funeral.

Doctors attending on him confirmed that the end came at 1.40pm and his family members were informed.

"The death came due to progression of disease," one of the doctors attending on the 67-year old Deshmukh said.

The minister was airlifted in an ambulance last Monday from Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai for admission to the Chennai's super specialty hospital on last Monday evening.

He was admitted to the Chennai hospital since last Monday, but his condition had been critical all through his stay, though doctors were hopeful that he would stabilize.

File photo of Union minister of science and technology and earth sciences Vilasrao Deshmukh. UNI

In fact, doctors were planning to conduct liver transplant operation but it could not be carried out as his vital parameters were not stable to the extent that the surgeons wanted, a hospital source said.

His immediate family members, wife and two sons -- including film star son Ritesh -- were at the hospital through his nine-day long stay in Chennai.

The mortal remains of the departed leader will be brought to Latur and kept at his house in Babhalgaon from 9am to 3pm for people to pay their last respects, his brother Dilip Deshmukh, said.

The funeral procession will start at 3pm and last rites would be performed at 4pm, he said.

Deshmukh was a member of Rajya Sabha and minister without portfolio. Earlier, he was minister for science and technology, earth sciences and micro, small and medium enterprises. After he fell ill, his portfolios were given to Vayalar Ravi.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a host of leaders across the political spectrum paid rich tributes to Deshmukh.

The Prime Minister condoled his demise describing him as a trusted colleague and an able administrator.

"Mr Deshmukh was a trusted colleague and an able administrator who worked at panchayat, state and central levels with admirable dedication," Singh said in his message.

Political leaders remembered Deshmukh as an amiable, warm-hearted leader who had the cause of farmers and youth as his primary focus.

"It is a very sad news. He was warm-hearted and cheerful and always ready for helping (others). He had a vision for Maharashtra and was equally concerned about farmers and youngsters," said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prakash Javadekar.

Minister of state for science and technology Ashwani Kumar said Deshmukh was a great human being and had a a great ability to connect with people.

"He was very unwell. We were hoping for his recovery. I am saddened, shocked," said Kumar, who worked as deputy to Deshmukh in the science and technology ministry.

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said it was "very unfortunate to lose such a promising leader at a young age".

She said Deshmukh's son Riteish "was very, very close" to her family.

Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said Deshmukh's demise had caused a lot of pain.

"He had a long journey in public life. He was a big leader, a wise leader. He knew all parts of Maharashtra very well. It is great loss for the country and big loss for Maharashtra," said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel.

Leaders from Maharashtra including governor K Sankaranarayanan, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, and Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale also condoled Deshmukh's death.

The Bollywood fraternity wished peace to the departed soul and strength to the late minister's family, including his actor-son Riteish.

Madhuri Dixit, Karan Johar, Bipasha Basu, Dia Mirza and Raveena Tandon extended condolences to the bereaved family through Twitter.

Shah Rukh Khan also expressed grief over the sudden demise of Deshmukh and remembered him as a "wonderful" gentleman.

"I'm feeling very sorry. I have known him (Vilasrao) for years. Riteish is a close friend of mine. I spoke to him. I am very sad, it is very unexpected," he said on the sidelines of an event.

Beginning his political journey as sarpanch of Babhalgaon village panchayat in 1974, Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh negotiated the choppy political waters of Maharashtra with elan, becoming chief minister twice before moving over to Delhi as a member of the Union cabinet.

Hailing from the politically dominant Maratha community, Deshmukh, a graduate from the ILS Law College, Pune, was a grassroots Congress worker, who proved his mettle at all stages in his impressive political career.

Deshmukh was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1980 and followed it up with victories in 1985 and 1990.

His political sagacity landed him the coveted chief minister's chair for the first time in October, 1999. He continued in the post from October 18, 1999 to January 17, 2003, when he had to make way for Sushilkumar Shinde, amid growing factionalism in the state Congress.

Amid mounting public outrage over the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, Deshmukh resigned owning moral responsibility and shifted to Delhi taking the Rajya Sabha route.

Like most politicians, controversies did not spare him too. Deshmukh provoked indignation and was accused of "terror tourism" when he visited the fire-ravaged Taj hotel with actor son Riteish and filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma soon after the 26/11 carnage.

Though not an accused, Deshmukh was also under the scanner in the Adarsh housing scam for giving various clearances to the controversial housing society as chief minister.

Amit Deshmukh to step into his father’s shoes

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

First Published: Aug 14, 2012 15:47 IST