New Delhi: BJP on Saturday mourned the death of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, describing him as a lion and one of the most charismatic leaders whose demise has left a "gaping void" in the country`s politics.
"It is rare in the 65 years of Independent India that I have seen a political leader who has left such a deep and abiding imprint on the country`s events as Balasaheb Thackeray.
Uncompromising in his patriotism, he possessed remarkable qualities of leadership and abundance of attributes of head and heart," senior leader LK Advani said.
The death of Thackeray has left a "gaping void" in the country`s politics which cannot be filled, he added.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter, "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead."
She later told reporters that very few people have the courage to speak their mind and Balasaheb was one of them. "He was never deterred by any opposition. His persona was as high and firm as the Himalayas. His death is an irreparable loss to the country. His departure has left a void which will never be filled."
In his condolence message, Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said, "He was one of the most charismatic leaders of his generation and uncompromising in his principles."
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, "Full of life, Balasaheb Thackeray was an epitome of courage and valour. I am grieved to hear about his demise. May his soul rest in peace."
Speaking to reporters later, Modi said, "His going away is like the passing away of an era. A good cartoonist, a free thinking journalist and one who awakened Maharashtra with his views, he carved a niche for himself in Indian politics.... He kept away from power but built an organisation and a movement on his own strength."
BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the death of Thackeray is a personal loss to him.
"What was in his heart was on his lips. He never hesitated to speak his mind. Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena have lost their anchor," he added.
Expressing condolences on behalf of the BJP, party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, "His death is a loss to the nation, a loss to Maharashtra and a loss to the NDA. His passing away marks the end of an era. As long as he lived, he lived like a lion."
Hussain said Thackeray knew how to swim against the tide and had done so at a time when other politicians were trying to swim with the current.
BJP general secretary and chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad described Thackeray as an "outstanding Maharashtrian and an extra-ordinary Indian" who has left behind a vast legacy.
"Apart from being a towering leader, he was an important pillar of NDA and one of the tallest figures in the anti-Congress movement. His death certainly creates a void and the bigger condolence would be to carry forward the ideals, the commitment to the glory of India and to strengthen the cause for alternative polity which he represented," he said.
Former union minister and MP Shatrughan Sinha said Thackeray was a tiger, a son of the soil, loved all communities and worked throughout his life for peace, brotherhood and harmony. "From a cartoonist, he struggled to reach to this height," he said.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Balasaheb was king of commitment and son of the soil is no more. In an atmosphere of political betrayal his leadership was required. His death is a loss not only for Maharashtra but the entire nation."
Jan Sangh founder member Balraj Madhok said the country has lost a "true nationalist" and "patriot".
"Hindustan has lost a true nationalist and patriot in the death of Hindu Hriday Samrat Sri Bala Saheb Thackeray. I offer my condolences to his bereaved family and pray that his soul rest in peace," Madhok, who was also president of Jan Sangh, said.