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Vilasrao Deshmukh's funeral held at Latur; thousands including PM, Sonia Gandhi attend

Vilasrao Deshmukh's funeral held at Latur; thousands including PM, Sonia Gandhi attend
Latur, Maharashtra:  Vilasrao Deshmukh's funeral was held at his village in Latur district of Maharashtra this evening. The Science and Technology Minister died in a hospital in Chennai on Tuesday. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Thousands of grieving supporters and family members bade a tearful adieu to the Union minister at his native Babhalgaon village from where he began his political journey as a Sarpanch four decades ago.

The last rites were performed by Mr Deshmukh's eldest son and Latur district's MLA, Amit, at a family farm close to where the union minister's father Dagdojirao Deshmukh was cremated.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were among those who were in Latur to attend his funeral today. Union ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Vayalar Ravi, Rajiv Shukla, Mukul Wasnik, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his deputy Ajit Pawar and a host of Bollywood personalities were also present at the funeral.

Mr Deshmukh's body was brought to Latur, his home district, by a special flight this morning. A huge crowd waited outside the airport as family members, associates and friends of the former Maharashtra Chief Minister accompanied his body from Latur airport to Dayanand School in the city. His body was kept there till 1 pm to allow people to pay their last respects. (Read: Maharashtra declares three-day mourning)

Later, it was taken to his ancestral home in Babhalgaon village. Weeping supporters, friends, farmers and villagers of Latur and surrounding districts queued up outside his house to catch his last glimpse.

Mr Deshmukh was in the Chennai hospital for a week. Dr K Ravindranath, chairman of Chennai's Global Hospitals, said Mr Deshmukh had been on the emergency list for a cadaver organ transplant but no donor was available when he was stable enough to have a transplant. The doctor said Mr Deshmukh was on ventilator support and died at 1.40 pm after multiple organ failure.

(With inputs from PTI)
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