New Delhi, Oct 29 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the demise of former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, saying he was an outstanding leader who cared for every section of the society and that his passing away was an 'irreparable loss'.
Modi hailed Patel as a great son of the country and said that personally for him the former Gujarat chief minister's demise was like losing a 'father figure'.
The prime minister, during his visit to Gujarat, will pay homage to Keshubhai Patel in Gandhinagar on Friday morning.
Patel died in Ahmedabad on Thursday after prolonged illness. The 92-year-old had recovered from COVID-19 recently and was rushed to a hospital in the morning following health complications.
'Our beloved and respected Keshubhai has passed away I am deeply pained and saddened,' Modi said.
Patel was an outstanding leader who cared for every section of the society. His life was devoted towards the progress of Gujarat and the empowerment of every Gujarati the prime minister said.
Keshubhai travelled across the length and breadth of Gujarat to strengthen the Jana Sangh and BJP, Modi said.
'He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. Issues of farmer welfare were closest to his heart,' the prime minister said in a series of tweets.
Be it as an MLA, MP, minister or CM, Patel ensured many farmer friendly measures were passed, Modi said, He said, 'Keshubhai mentored and groomed many younger Karyakartas, including me. Everyone loved his affable nature. His demise is an irreparable loss.' 'We are all grieving today. My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers. Spoke to his son Bharat and expressed condolences. Om Shanti.' Later, in his condolence message, the prime minister said a 'great son of the country and Gujarat has gone far away from us.' Noting that Patel spent nearly six decades in public life, Modi said his sole aim was national interest. On one hand, he was gentle in his behaviour and on the other he was strong willed in taking decisions, the prime minister said.
'Throughout his life he was dedicated to the service of every section of the society. Every work of his was for the development of Gujarat and his every decision was to empower every Gujarati,' Modi said, adding Patel came from an ordinary farmers' family and he used to understand the problems of the farmers and the poor.
Welfare of the farmers was paramount for him, Modi said.
The work he has done to make the life of the poor and the farmers easy, the ideals of nationalism and public devotion that he carried throughout his life, will continue to inspire generations, the prime minister said.
'Keshubhai was familiar with every colour and nerve of Gujarat. He took the Jana Sangh and the BJP to every region of Gujarat. I remember, during the Emergency, how Keshubhai struggled to protect democracy,' he said.
'Keshubhai taught many things to ordinary workers like me and always guided them. I remained in constant touch with him even after becoming the prime minister. Whenever I got an opportunity while in Gujarat, I went to seek his blessings,' Modi said.
'Just a few weeks ago, I had a very long conversation with him during the virtual meeting of Somnath Trust and he looked very happy. During this period of coronavirus also, I had many conversations with him over phone. I kept asking about his health,' Modi said.
Nearly 45 years of knowing him closely, be it in organization, during struggle, in making arrangements, flashes of memories come to my mind, he said.
'Today, every BJP worker is very sad like me. My condolences are with Keshubhai's family, with his well-wishers. In this time of grief, I am in constant touch with his family,' the prime minister said.
Patel, a BJP veteran, was the state chief minister in 1995 and again during 1998-2001. Modi had succeeded him as Gujarat chief minister.
He was a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly six times. He quit the BJP in 2012 and floated the Gujarat Parivartan Party, which performed poorly in the 2012 Assembly polls and merged with the BJP in 2014. PTI ASK NSD NSD