A host of dignitaries, including leaders and members of the diplomatic corps, visited A.K. Gopalan Bhavan, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) office, here on Monday to pay tributes to veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached the party office in the morning separately and paid floral tributes and recorded their comments in the condolence book.

Mr. Ansari said the country mourned the passing of a patriot and a great statesman. The Prime Minister said India lost a great son who was a great statesman and a great patriot.

The office received a steady stream of visitors, including External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, and his colleague, S.S. Ahluwalia, and Minister of State K.V. Thomas, among others.

Envoys of Cuba, Russia, Pakistan, Iraq and representatives from China, and the United Kingdom also paid their tributes to Mr. Basu.

In a statement, the All-India Lawyers Union (AILU) mourned the passing of Mr. Basu and said though he did not practise law, he took a great initiative in organising the AILU, of which he was one of the founders.

“In his passing, a historic era has come to an end. The-All-India Lawyers Union salutes the memory of a great leader, an eminent Communist and a pathfinder and joins the nation in mourning the loss due to his demise,” AILU general secretary D.K. Agarwal said in a statement.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and BJP Parliamentary Party chairman L.K. Advani are scheduled to travel to Kolkata and pay their tributes.

Dr. Singh informed the CPI(M) leaders on Tuesday that he was not able to go to Kolkata on account of official engagements.

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