India’s union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister Deshmukh dies in Chennai

Union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister mourned by leaders, Bollywood

The late Maharashtra state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh
Image Credit: AP
This December 1, 2008 file photo shows the late Maharashtra state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Gulf News

Chennai/New Delhi/Mumbai: Union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh died at a Chennai hospital Tuesday after prolonged illness. The news led to parliament being adjourned while leaders across the political spectrum paid him warm tributes.

The 67-year-old Deshmukh passed away around 2 pm, sources at the Global Hospital said. Deshmukh was awaiting liver and kidney transplants. His family members, including his three sons — Amit, Riteish and Dheeraj — were by his side when he breathed his last.

Deshmukh, who was science and technology minister, was rushed to Chennai from Mumbai on August 6. He had been in the intensive care unit in a critical condition since.

On Monday, a person was declared brain dead, giving hope that Deshmukh may be the lucky organ-recipient and survive. Doctors were ready to harvest the organs but the person died of cardiac arrest. Deshmukh’s condition deteriorated and he passed away, said the hospital official.

Deshmukh’s funeral will be held at his village Babhalgaon on Wednesday evening, sources close to the family said.

His body would be brought to Latur, near Babhalgaon, about 480 km from Mumbai, Wednesday morning. It would be kept at his residence in Babhalgaon from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for people to pay their last respects, sources said.

The funeral procession will begin at 3 pm and the last rites will take place at 4 pm.

Both houses of parliament were adjourned as soon as the news came in, while condolences poured in from all quarters.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday condoled the death of his “trusted colleague”.

“He was a trusted colleague and an able administrator who worked at panchayat, state and central levels with admirable dedication,” he said in a statement.

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 great ability to connect with people.

“He was very unwell. We were hoping for his recovery. I am saddened, shocked,” said Ashwani 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 here.