Mumbai: Vilasrao Deshmukh`s long-time friends -- and rivals -- in the Maharashtra politics on Tuesday expressed shock over the senior Congress leader`s demise.
Deshmukh, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister, died at a Chennai hospital on Tuesday.
"Maharashtra`s tiger has gone," Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh said in his condolence message. "In 1983, we were colleagues in the state ministry and I knew him for the last 35 years. People of the state will not forget his contribution," he said.
NCP state unit president Madhukar Pichad said Deshmukh worked for farmers and labourers, and his death had left a void in the state`s political arena.
Union minister Milind Deora described Deshmukh as a great leader. "He had his ups and downs, and perhaps made some political errors, but then who doesn`t. He was someone who could cut across all lines and was a great campaigner."
Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, whose father S B Chavan was considered to be Deshmukh`s political mentor, mourned the demise, saying "he groomed a new leadership in the state. I saw his career at close quarters and was amazed by his political acumen".
NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, "We all are in a great shock."
Senior BJP leader and Deshmukh`s old friend, Gopinath Munde, said he never let their friendship be affected by the politics. Sometimes he had to bear the brunt on account of their friendship, but he never complained, Munde said.
Deshmukh`s close associate and former MLC Ulhas Pawar said he could not believe that his friend of 40-42 years was no more.