New Delhi: Several leaders from Maharashtra, including Sharad Pawar and Prithviraj Chavan, on Tuesday expressed deep grief over the death of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, hailing him for his contribution to the state and the nation.

They especially recalled Deshmukh's role in leading the first Congress coalition in the state.

Union Agriculture Minister Pawar said Deshmukh was an efficient administrator who left his mark on the affairs of the state through his work for the weaker sections.

Being the most popular orator in Marathi and Hindi, he was a leading campaigner and organiser in the state, Pawar said. He lamented that death came to Deshmukh when he was set to put his imprint over the national scene as Union Minister.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that in the death of Deshmukh, the country has lost a national leader who had led Maharashtra for many years. He said there will be a three-day state mourning in Maharashtra.

Chavan recalled that in 1999, when Congress had to form a coalition in the state, Deshmukh effectively steered the state in troubled times.

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Deshmukh always strived for the development of Maharashtra and was especially focused on the cause of farmers.

Shiv Sena's leader in the Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut said Deshmukh was the biggest leader from Maharashtra after Sharad Pawar to represent the state at the Centre.

Deshmukh showed how to run a coalition in the state, Raut said adding that his death was a loss to Maharashtra as also to the nation.

AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who was in charge of party affairs in Maharashtra when Deshmukh became Chief Minister for the first time, praised his leadership skills.

Union Minister Rajiv Shukla, who represents Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha, said Deshmukh maintained old values in Indian politics in which there was no place for personal enmity.


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