New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leaders from across the political spectrum on Tuesday mourned the death of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, hailing him as a "pragmatic" politician and an "able" administrator.

As condolences poured in after the demise of the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, a pall of gloom descended on his home state where political parties called him a "mass leader" and said his death is a big loss to the state.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari also joined Chief Ministers, Governors of states and Deshmukh's Cabinet colleagues in recalling the contributions of the 67-year-old Congress stalwart and noted he was one of the leaders with grassroots contacts.

"He (Deshmukh) 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.

Prime Minister Singh said the country and the state of Maharashtra have lost an illustrious son.

"In a public career of about four decades, he served the country and the State of Maharashtra with a passionate commitment for the public good," he said.

Gadkari, who hails from Deshmukh's home state, called the Union Minister a good Parliamentarian and recalled how his leadership was always respected.

CPI leader D Raja said Deshmukh's death is not only a big loss to the nation but to the political sphere as a whole.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said after Sharad Pawar, Deshmukh was the "tallest" leader of Maharashtra in Delhi politics.

Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said the death of Deshmukh has caused irreparable loss to politics and society while his party colleague and NDA Convenor Sharad Yadav said the country has lost a great administrator.

Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy said Deshmukh served the society with full dedication during his long political career.

Calling Deshmukh a mass leader with immense popularity, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan said Deshmukh's untimely death had snapped a "promising political career" and caused a void in political scene of the state.

He has also cancelled the Independence Day reception scheduled for tomorrow in Pune.

(Agencies)

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