New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday condoled the death of veteran Congress leader Vasant Sathe, saying he was 'a socialist at heart' and a strong advocate of 'cultural diplomacy'.

The Prime Minister, who is currently in the United States, sent a condolence message to Sathe's son Subash Sathe on Saturday. Vasant Sathe, 86, died of a heart attack at his Gurgaon residence on Friday evening.

In his message, Manmohan Singh recalled his personal association with Sathe and called him a 'socialist at heart and known for his frank expression on various critical subjects of the day'.

“He was a strong advocate of India's cultural diplomacy and held the position of the president of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations with great distinction,” the prime minister said in his message.

“I recall fondly the many stimulating discussions I had with him on various economic and political matters when I was deputy chairman of Planning Commission and later finance minister,” he said.

Sathe, who was close to the Nehru-Gandhi family, is remembered for bringing colour TV to India as the information and broadcasting minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet in 1982.

Sathe, who represented Wardha Lok Sabha constituency many times, supported the movement for a separate Vidarbha despite being in the Congress, said political watchers.

After his defeat in the 1996 general election, he virtually retired from politics.

Sathe's wife Jayashree passed away a few years ago. He is survived by a son and two daughters.

(Agencies)