Chennai/New Delhi/Mumbai, Aug 14 (IANS) Union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh died at a Chennai hospital Tuesday after prolonged illness. Leaders across the political spectrum mourned his death while parliament was adjourned and national flags flown at half-mast as tribute.
The 67-year-old Deshmukh passed away around 2 p.m., sources at the Global Hospital said. He 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 Aug 6. He had been in the intensive care unit in a critical condition since then.
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 Deshmukh's condition deteriorated and he died, said the hospital official.
Deshmukh's funeral will be held at his village Babhalgaon in Maharashtra's Latur Wednesday evening, sources close to the family said.
His body would be brought to Latur, 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 p.m. and the last rites will take place at 4 p.m.
Both houses of parliament were adjourned as soon as the news came in, while condolences poured in from all quarters.
In Delhi, the union cabinet met Tuesday evening to condole Deshmukh's death. It passed a resolution mourning Deshmukh's "untimely" and "sad" demise and said he will be given a state funeral.
The Maharashtra government Tuesday announced three-day state mourning, while national flags in New Delhi and in all state capitals were ordered to fly at half-mast Tuesday. However, they will be flown as usual on Independence Day as per the Flag Code.
President Pranab Mukherjee termed Deshmukh a "towering leader of Maharashtra" and "an esteemed colleague and a dear friend".
"The nation has lost a personality who was always in touch with the grassroots of society," Mukherjee said in a message to Deshmukh's widow Vaishali.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 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.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also extended her condolences to Deshmukh's family.
Political leaders remembered Deshmukh as an amiable, warm-hearted leader who had the cause of farmers and youth as his primary focus.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari said Deshmukh was an able administrator.
"In his death, I have lost a friend and Maharashtra a veteran politician," he said.
"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".
Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said Deshmukh's journey from the village sarpanch to chief minister and union cabinet minister was admirable.
".... not only the state of Maharashtra but the entire nation has lost a great leader and a promising statesman. Under his leadership, Maharashtra state could achieve tremendous progress in every sphere...I am sure his ideas and ideals will continue to inspire the people of the country," Pawar said.
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.