President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday expressed grief at the death of senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla.

Describing Mr. Shukla as “a veteran parliamentarian, able administrator and an outstanding statesman,” Mr. Mukherjee said he had made “valuable contribution to the growth of our nation in various capacities. The nation will remember his contributions and his pursuit of excellence in public life.”

Mr. Mukherjee said he had lost a friend with whom he had “a long personal association.”

In a condolence message to Mr. Shukla’s wife, the Prime Minister said he was “particularly pained that he lost his life in a brutal attack by left wing extremists. His passing away only strengthens our resolve to fight the Naxal menace.”

He said the Congress had lost a committed member and the country a staunch nationalist, who was “one of the most influential leaders that undivided Madhya Pradesh produced in post-Independence India.”

Dr. Singh, Ms. Gandhi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to pay their last respects to Mr. Shukla, whose body was brought from Gurgaon for embalming.

Among others who visited the hospital were senior leaders Digvijay Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily also offered their condolences to Mr. Shukla’s family.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said: “It is a colossal loss to the State and an end of an era. It is not only a loss for his party and entire political establishment but for every common man,” said Mr. Singh.

The Chhattisgarh government announced three-day mourning in honour of the departed leader.

Chhattisgarh Congress said Mr. Shukla dedicated his life to establish democratic values in the Maoist areas of the State.

The former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, who was the Collector of Raipur when Mr. Shukla was a Union Minister, said he was never pressured by Mr. Shukla even when the going was difficult. “I was told to stop Mr. Shukla from filing nomination in the election in 1980 after the Kissa Kursi Ka [Story of Chairs] film controversy broke out. Not once Mr. Shukla called and pressured me to let him file the nomination even if he was supremely powerful. I did let him file the nomination though,” said Mr. Jogi. Of course, Mr. Shukla and Mr. Jogi turned political adversaries later.

More In: National | News