New Delhi: Leaders across the political spectrum on Saturday condoled the death of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a "consummate communicator" whose stature in Maharashtra politics was "unique".

President Pranab Mukherjee said the nation has lost a veteran leader who worked to help the common man and whose contributions in the field of media added a different perspective to the political discourse.

The death was also condoled by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

Prime Minister Singh, who called up Thackeray's son Uddhav, appealed to the people to maintain calm and sobriety.

Singh said the interests of Maharashtra were "particulary important" for Thackeray and "he always strived to inculcate a sense of pride in its people."

"He founded Shiv Sena and built the party into a formidable force in the state politics with his strong leadership. The passing away of Balasaheb will be deeply felt by his family and his followers," he said.

The Prime Minister described Thackeray as a "consummate communicator, whose stature in the politics of Maharashtra was unique."

Advani said Thackeray's death has left a "gaping void" in the country's politics which "cannot be filled".

"It is rare that I have seen in these 65 years of independent India a political leader who has left such a deep and abiding imprint on the country's events as Balasaheb Thackeray. Uncompromising in his patriotism, he possessed remarkable qualities of leadership and abundance of attributes of head and heart," Advani said.

Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead."

She said he was never deterred by any opposition. "His persona was as high and firm as the Himalayas. His death is an irreparable loss to the country. His departure has left a void which will never be filled."

Swaraj's counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said Thackeray "was one of the most charismatic leaders of his generation and was uncompromising in his principles."

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Thackeray, as a cartoonist, arrived on the scene like a storm after the collapse of communists in Mumbai and took forward the legacy of his reformist father, `Prabodhankar' Thackeray.

Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar said described Thackeray as a "magnanimous" person who was ready "to pay any political price" for his stands.

"Fierce pride about Maharashtra, willingness to pay any price for the interest of Marathi language, Maharashtrians, but at the same time the readiness to contribute on Maharashtra's behalf for the sake of the country, these were the hallmarks of Balasaheb," Pawar said.

Acknowledging differences with Thackeray, Pawar however said "when there were national-level problems, he had the capability to take a generous stand. No other leader in the country had this power."

DMK chief M Karunanidhi said Thackeray's "love and simplicity during his Chennai visit impressed me a lot".

Thackeray was a person who would not come forward to compromise on the welfare of people from his state, Karunanidhi said.


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