New Delhi/Chandigarh: Veteran Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala passed away in Delhi on Monday following a prolonged illness. He was 87 and was cremated later in the day.
Surjewala, father of party leader Randeep Surjewala, breathed his last at the AIIMS hospital in New Delhi this morning, where he was admitted for a few days, family sources said. His body was taken from AIIMS to Narwana in Haryana where his cremation was held. The funeral pyre was lit by his son. Besides Randeep Surjewala, Shamsher is survived by his wife and two daughters. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja, former union minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, former MP Deepender Singh Hooda and several Congress MLAs from Haryana and Punjab were present at the cremation.
Shamsher Singh Surjewala was a five-time MLA and one-time Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana. He was also the former president of the Haryana Congress and a four-time minister. He was president of the Haryana Krishak Samaj and the All India Kisan Congress and fought for the rights of farmers.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said his passing away was a profound loss for the party.
In her condolence letter to Vidya, the wife of Surjewala, Gandhi said the departed leader's legacy will continue to guide those dedicated to serving their communities.
"This is a profound loss for the Congress party," Gandhi said in her letter. She said that in his illustrious career, Surjewala donned several mantles, both as part of the ruling dispensation and as a leader of the opposition in Haryana.
His dedication towards the people and the Congress party remained undiminished even in the face of great adversity, she said. "Under his leadership, the Congress party built a formidable organisation in Haryana. He also remained a dedicated champion of farmer's rights and spearheaded several notable movements. Few leaders have left such a lasting impression on those who were fortunate enough to have known him. His legacy will continue to guide us and inspire those dedicated to serving their communities," she said in her letter.
"My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in this difficult time. With my heartfelt condolences," she added in her letter. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited AIIMS and met Randeep Surjewala to convey his condolences on Monday morning.
"In the passing of Shri Shamsher Singh Surjewala, we have lost a popular & respected Congressman who worked tirelessly in the service of India's farmers & the development of Haryana. My condolences to his family & friends. Om Shanti," Gandhi tweeted.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he was saddened by the passing of Shamsher Singh Surjewala. "My thoughts & prayers are with the family in this hour of grief," he tweeted.
The Haryana Assembly also paid tributes to the veteran Congress leader. Both Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Hooda described S S Surjewala as an able and experienced leader. Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he was saddened by the news.
"My tribute to the departed soul. May God give peace to his soul and strength to the family to bear this grief," he said. "Deeply pained at the demise of former Haryana Congress chief, former Rajya Sabha MP and former Haryana minister Shamsher Singh Surjewala," Kumari Selja said. "His passing away is a big loss and it will be difficult to fill the void. The state has lost an able politician, an icon of development and a great public servant," she said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath have also condoled his demise. "Saddened to hear about passing away of Sh. Shamsher Singh Surjewala ji, prominent Congress leader from Haryana and father of @rssurjewala ji. My heartfelt condolences to entire family and his supporters. May his soul Rest in Peace.," Gehlot said on Twitter.