Kolkata: Thousands of grief-stricken people and leaders cutting across political lines turned up on Tuesday to bid adieu to veteran Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who died in a Delhi hospital on Monday.
Amid slogans of "Priya Dasmunsi amar rahe" and "Vandemataram", the departed leader`s body was taken out of a mortuary "Peace Haven" - where it had been kept after being flown to the city from Delhi on Monday night - and put in a flower-bedecked hearse.
The first stop was the West Bengal Pradesh Congress headquarters Bidhan Bhavan, where a huge number of teary-eyed party workers gathered to pay their last tributes to Dasmunsi.
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan, veteran party leader Somen Mitra were among those who garlanded the body, as Dasmunsi`s widow Deepa and son Priyabrata stood close by.
Top leaders from other parties like Left Front chairman Biman Bose, Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shamik Bhattacharya also went to Bidhan Bhavan.
The funeral cortege then reached the Calcutta High Court, where Dasmunsi had enrolled as a lawyer. Former city mayor Bikash Bhattacharya was among the hundreds of legal luminaries who turned up for a last glimpse of the former Union Minister.
The body was next taken to Dasmunsi`s residence in South Kolkata`s Rani Bhavani Road, where many of his family members and Congress workers assembled.
Dasmunsi, a firebrand student leader known for his Bengali oratory and sharp debating skills which attracted students and youths in droves in the 1960s and 1970s, mentored many talented young men and women who went on to occupy key political and governmental posts at some point of time.
Many of them came to pay their last respects to the leader who baptised them into politics. Former Union Minister Sougata Ray, BJP vice president Jai Prakash Majumdar, state education minister Partha Chatterjee, power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee belonged to this category.
"He was fond of good debates, discussions. He always asked youngsters to read a lot and be well informed. He was a brilliant organiser. He had the ability to nurse and mentor young leaders," said Partha Chatterjee.
Deepa Dasmunsi said the presence of so many leaders, many of whom have now changed their political path, was the best tribute to her husband, who was in coma for the last nine years.
"He is no more. He suffered a lot for nine years. During this time there were many who enquired about his condition. Again, there were many who did not. For nine years we hoped and prayed every moment for his recovery. He could not win the last battle, even though he was a fighter all his life.
"Today I see many leaders, who had once been mentored by him, paying him their last respects. Many of them have now changed their political road and philosophy. But still they have retained their feelings for him in a corner of their heart. This is the best tribute to him," she said.
Dasmunsi`s body was being airlifted to his ancestral house in Kaliaganj in Uttar Dinajpur district, where after a gun salute, the last rites would be performed with full state honours.