Latur, Aug 15 (IANS) A sea of humanity poured out on all roads leading to Babhalgaon village in this Maharashtra district as thousands paid their last tributes to their beloved leader and union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh whose last rites were held Wednesday.
Deshmukh's eldest son and Latur legislator Amit performed the last rites of his father at a family farm in his native village.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, and other union ministers including Praful Patel, Vayalar Ravi, Rajiv Shukla and Mukul Wasnik, among others, were present at the funeral.
Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale and other opposition leaders also paid their last respects to Deshmukh and expressed their grief after meeting his family.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Karnataka chief minister N. Dharam Singh were also present.
As a mark of respect to the departed leader, all shops and businesses remained closed for the second consecutive day Wednesday and many people observed fast, locals said.
Security arrangements at levels never before seen were put in place since Wednesday morning when Deshmukh's body was brought by a special Indian Air Force aircraft to Latur for the last rites in his native village.
Deshmukh spent his childhood in Babhalgaon, became one of its youngest sarpanch (village head), and later went on to become Maharashtra chief minister twice and also a union minister.
He breathed his last in Chennai's Global Hospital Tuesday after cardiac arrest following multiple organ failure.
Even as people filed past the coffin weeping, his sons Amit, Dheeraj and Riteish accepted condolences from the host of dignitaries and VVIPs who had reached Latur for the funeral.
The state government had organised a state funeral for Deshmukh and declared a three-day official mourning.