President, vice-president, PM condole Munde’s death

New Delhi : Senior political leaders expressed shock and grief at the sudden demise of Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a car accident here Tuesday morning.

President Pranab Mukherjee said: “His (Munde) passing away is a huge loss for the people of Maharashtra and India.”

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“In his death, we have lost a veteran leader who always worked for the common man,” Mukherjee said expressing heartfelt condolences.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the BJP headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road here and placed a wreath on Munde’s glass coffin. He also offered his condolences to Munde’s family.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari said he was “profoundly saddened” at Munde’s death.

“Munde was amongst the most prominent leaders of Maharashtra, who had a long and illustrious public life during which he served his state and the country in various capacities with great distinction. In his departure, we have lost a distinguished public servant whose absence will be felt by one and all,” Ansari added.

Munde’s reputation as someone who worked for the interests of the marginalised was a common theme in the condolence expressed by leaders cutting across party lines.

“Deeply shocked to know about Munde’s demise. He was a grassroot leader and known for his concern for poor people and farmers,” tweeted Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

“Mundeji’s death is an irreparable loss to the BJP and he has left a big void in Mahrashtra’s political and social life,” he added.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said: “I am shocked to know about the sudden demise of my colleague Gopinath Munde. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.”

Munde, 64, an important figure in Maharashtra politics, was going to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in his Maruti Suzuki SX4 car which was hit by a Tata Indica car at Aurobindo chowk about 6.20 a.m.

Munde’s body is kept at the BJP headquarters for party leaders to pay their last respects. It will be flown from the headquarters to Marathwada in Maharashtra. The last rites will be performed Wednesday.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also sent a wreath and paid his tributes.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters to pay tribute to Munde. Expressing “shock”, he “offered his deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Munde”.

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader and AAP leader Medha Patekar tweeted: “Mundeji’s demise is shocking. Maharashtra has lost a leader sensitive to the issue of working class, OBCs and farmers.”

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar also condoled Munde’s sudden death, saying it was a big loss for the rural sector. Pawar said Munde’s knowledge about problems of rural India made him a great public servant.

Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said: “He was my very old friend, devastated by this news. Nation had high hopes from him.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said Munde’s death was an irreparable loss for the BJP as well as for the Shiv Sena.

Minister of State Culture and Minister of State Tourism (Independent Charge) Shripad Yesso Naik said: “Not only people of Maharashtra but people of Goa are also shocked after hearing the sad news of sudden departure of Munde.”