Latur: A sea of
humanity poured out on all roads leading to Babhalgaon village in
this Maharashtra district as thousands paid their last tributes to
their beloved leader and union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh whose
last rites were held Wednesday.
Deshmukh's eldest son and Latur legislator Amit performed the last
rites of his father at a family farm in his native village.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi,
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister
Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Union Home
Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar,
and other union ministers including Praful Patel, Vayalar Ravi,
Rajiv Shukla and Mukul Wasnik, among others, were present at the
Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra
Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, Republican Party of India
chief Ramdas Athawale and other opposition leaders also paid their
last respects to Deshmukh and expressed their grief after meeting
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Karnataka chief
minister N. Dharam Singh were also present.
As a mark of respect to the departed leader, all shops and
businesses remained closed for the second consecutive day
Wednesday and many people observed fast, locals said.
Security arrangements at levels never before seen were put in
place since Wednesday morning when Deshmukh's body was brought by
a special Indian Air Force aircraft to Latur for the last rites in
his native village.
Deshmukh spent his childhood in Babhalgaon, became one of its
youngest sarpanch (village head), and later went on to become
Maharashtra chief minister twice and also a union minister.
He breathed his last in Chennai's Global Hospital Tuesday after
cardiac arrest following multiple organ failure.
Even as people filed past the coffin weeping, his sons Amit,
Dheeraj and Riteish accepted condolences from the host of
dignitaries and VVIPs who had reached Latur for the funeral.
The state government had organised a state funeral for Deshmukh
and declared a three-day official mourning.