Ex-Union minister and Cong veteran Madhavsinh Solanki dead

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(Eds: Updating and adding reax) Ahmedabad, Jan 9 (PTI) Former external affairs minister and Congress veteran Madhavsinh Solanki, who had also served as chief minister of Gujarat for four times, died in Gandhinagar on early Saturday morning, Congress leaders said.

He was 93.

'The death of Madhavsinh Solanki has brought extreme grief. May God give peace to his soul. He had made place in the hearts of people by his actions and deeds,' Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda, who is also a relative of Solanki, tweeted.

He had served as External Affairs Minister from June 1991 to March 1992.

However, he had resigned in the wake of a controversy following his meeting with then Switzerland foreign minister in Davos and his alleged remarks regarding the Bofors case probe.

Solanki had also served as a two term MP of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.

He had floated an idea of an alliance of Kshitriya, Harijan, Adivasi (tribal) and Muslim (KHAM) casts and communities in Gujarat for Congress to win elections.

He had been the longest serving chief minister of the state before Narendra Modi became CM.

His son Bharatsinh Solanki is also a former Union minister.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has declared a one-day mourning. The last rites of the departed leader will be held with full state honours, the state government said in a release.

The CM cancelled all his engagements for a day and a special meeting of the Cabinet was convened to express condolences, where a two-minute silence was observed.

In his tweet, President Ram Nath Kovind said, 'In the demise of Shri Madhavsinh Solanki, the nation has lost an unmatched leader. He will be long remembered as much for his role in shaping modern Gujarat as for his inimitable warmth, charm, and love for literature. My condolences to his family and well-wishers'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Solanki as a formidable leader who played a key role in the state's politics for decades.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Solanki will be remembered for his contribution in strengthening the Congress ideology and promoting social justice.

Former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia remembered Solanki as a mentor and a guide. PTI PD NSK NSK