New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday expressed shock and deep sorrow over the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying he had lost a "dear friend and a very valued colleague".

In his condolence message, Singh paid tributes to the deceased Union Minister and former Maharashtra Chief Minister, noting that he was an able administrator who distinguished himself in a wide range of public positions.

"Deshmukh was a trusted colleague and an able administrator who worked at panchayat, state and central levels with admirable dedication," he said.

In a message to the deceased's wife Vaishali, the Prime Minister said, "It is with shock and deep sorrow that I have learnt of the passing away of your husband Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh."

Singh said Deshmukh was a senior Congressman widely respected for his leadership and "in a public career of about four decades, he served the country and the state of Maharashtra with a passionate commitment for the public good".

Noting that Deshmukh had distinguished himself in a wide range of public positions, the Prime Minister said, "In the passing away of Vilasraoji, I have lost a dear friend and a very valued colleague. The country and the state of Maharashtra have lost an illustrious son."

Singh pointed out that Deshmukh had served well in public positions he held from the panchayat to the national level, including as Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for 25 years, as Chief Minister of Maharashtra for two terms and as a Union Cabinet Minister.

"On this sad occasion, I convey my heartfelt condolences to you and other members of the family, and to Deshmukhji's followers and admirers," he said, adding, "I join all of you in praying for the departed soul."


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