President, vice-president, PM mourn Venkataraman’s death (Lead)

January 27th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday mourned the death of former president R. Venkataraman and said the nation has lost a true patriot. In her condolence message, Patil said Venkataraman was a great parliamentarian and freedom fighter who actively participated in the freedom movement. “In his passing away, the nation has lost a true patriot and a distinguished luminary,” she added.

The former president passed away at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here 2.30 p.m. following prolonged illness. He was 98.

Venkataraman was the eighth president of the country, from 1987 to 1992. Earlier, he served as vice-president of the country for nearly four years.

Recalling her association with the former president, Patil said: “I will always remember my personal interactions with him, especially when I was the deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. He served with distinction in various capacities in public life and ultimately rose to occupy the highest office of the nation.”

Ansari said he received the news of the former president’s passing with “profound sorrow”.

“Venkataraman was a distinguished public personality, versatile parliamentarian and an adept administrator who served the country with distinction in various capacities,” Ansari said.

“In his long public career, Venkataraman left a distinct mark in society and in the polity with his innate simplicity, vast erudition and experience and deep sensitivity for the poor and the deprived. His loss shall be keenly felt,” the vice-president said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recovering from a heart surgery, sent his condolence message from his hospital bed, and expressed shock and grief at Venkataraman’s death.

Describing Venkataraman as an “outstanding figure of our public life,” the prime minister said the former president will be long remembered for his service to the nation, his strength of character and his knowledge and wisdom.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the party and its president Sonia Gandhi condoled the passing away of the former president.

“He had a distinguished political career at every level spanning over decades. We convey our sincere condolences to members of his family,” Singhvi said.

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