Chennai:  Union Minister and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh passed away on Tuesday after suffering from liver failure. He was 67.

The Union Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth Sciences passed away around 2 pm, sources at the Global Hospital said.

His family members, including his three sons, were by his side when he breathed his last. An attempt to harvest liver from a brain dead donor from a government hospital here had proved futile as the man died before doctors could operate on him on Monday night, they said.

A team from Global Hospitals, where Deshmukh was admitted on August 6, had planned to retrieve the liver from the 31-year-old donor at the hospital, but he died, forcing them to look for another donor, the sources said.

The 67-year-old former Maharashtra Chief Minister had shown signs of improvement and been on and off the ventilator before being prepared for a transplant, the sources said.

Deshmukh was brought here from Mumbai in an air ambulance in a critical condition.

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

On July 19, Deshmukh was in New Delhi for the presidential election.  Both houses of Parliament were adjourned as soon as the news of the Congress leader's demise came in.

Cremation in Latur on Wednesday
    
Vilasrao Deshmukh, who passed away in Chennai on Tuesday afternoon, will be cremated at his native Babhalgaon village in Latur district on Wednesday, family sources said.
    
The mortal remains of the departed leader will be brought to Latur on Wednesday and kept at his house in Babhalgaon from 9 am to 3 pm for people to pay their last respects, his brother Dilip Deshmukh, said.

PM, Sonia to attend funeral

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi will attend the funeral of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Wednesday. Union Ministers Sharad Pawar and Sushilkumar Shinde will also be present.
    
The funeral procession will start at 3 pm and last rites would be performed at 4 pm, he said.

Parliament adjourned after Deshmukh's death

Both Houses of parliament were adjourned on Tuesday as soon as news came in of the death of union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in a Chennai hospital.

In the Rajya Sabha, the announcement of Deshmukh's passing away was made by Nationslist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar, who was in the chair.

The House was discussing the Whistleblowers Protection Bill when the announcement was made.

The Lok Sabha was discussing the issue of Maoist violence when the announcement was made by Congress member P.C. Chacko, who was in the chair at the time.

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President mourns Deshmukh’s demise

President Pranab Mukherjee paid rich tributes to late Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh describing him as a "towering" leader who was always in touch with the grassroots of society".

"In his passing away, the nation has lost a personality who was always in touch with the grassroots of society," the President said.

"I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of your husband, Vilasrao Deshmukh. Deshmukh was an esteemed colleague and a dear friend. He was a veteran politician and an able administrator who served the nation in different spheres. He was always concerned about the welfare and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden," Mukherjee said in a condolence message to Deshmukh's wife.

Mukherjee described Deshmukh as "a towering leader of Maharashtra" and said his "immense contribution to the welfare of the state as Chief Minister will always be remembered".

I lost dear friend: Manmohan Singh

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

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."

"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."

Panchayat to Parliament

From an obscure village 'Sarpanch' to a powerful Chief Minister and Union Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh was a political craftsman adept at turning challenges into opportunities. Beginning his political journey as 'Sarpanch' of Babhalgaon village panchayat in 1974, Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh (67), 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.

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Starting out as a panchayat member, Deshmukh was 'Sarpanch' of Babhalgaon from 1974 to 1976, member of the Osmanabad Zilla Parishad and Deputy Chairman of Latur Taluka Panchayat Samiti. He was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1980 and followed it up with victories in 1985 and 1990.
    
He held important portfolios of revenue, cooperation, agriculture, home, industries and education as a minister in the state between 1982 and 1995.

Deshmukh became first time CM in October, 1999

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.     

Never known to sulk in a quiet corner, the hard-boiled politician from Latur won the Legislative Assembly polls in October 2004 and was sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time on November 1 that year.

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.

Flag flies half mast on 14th August

National flag on Tuesday flew at half mast in Delhi and in all state capitals as a mark of respect to Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who died at a Chennai hospital.

We have lost a generous, charismatic leader: Prithviraj Chavan

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has condoled the death of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying the State has lost a generous and charismatic leader. "We have lost a generous and charismatic leader. It's a big loss to our State. I have lost a friend," Chavan said.

"In fact, we never saw Vilasrao sick or nervous. He always stood gracefully and tall in any situation and faced challenges with smile on his face. He was not only popular in the (Congress) party but had friends in Opposition too.

Vayalar Ravi gets Deshmukh's portfolio

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has been given additional charge of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry.  Highly placed sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked Ravi to take care of the Ministry in the Parliament.

(JPN/Agencies)

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