New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday 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".

"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".

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


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