President Pratibha Patil led the country in paying rich tributes to the former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, as leaders across the political spectrum condoled his death while recalling the contribution of the nonagenarian Marxist leader.

The President said Mr. Basu earned the unique distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister of any State from the late seventies to 2000, and displayed his abilities as a leader of the people, an able administrator and an eminent statesman. “In his passing away the nation has lost a veteran and an eminent public figure.”

Expressing deep anguish over Mr. Basu’s death, Vice President Hamid Ansari said his sagacity and leadership at both the State and the national level have been a source of inspiration and guidance.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was the end of an era in the annals of Indian politics.

Dr. Singh in his message to the departed leader’s son said: “I turned to him for his sagacious advice on all matters, whether they related to West Bengal or to issues of national importance. His advice was statesmanlike but always pragmatic based on unshakable values that he championed throughout his political career.”

The former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said Mr. Basu was a dedicated political worker, an able administrator who became Chief Minister by dint of work and took visionary steps.

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