Vilasrao Deshmukh's funeral will be 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.
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.
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's last rites will be conducted after 4 pm with full state honours.
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. (Vilasrao Deshmukh: From Sarpanch to Union Minister)
He is survived by his wife Vaishali and three sons - Amit Deshmukh who is the MLA from Latur city, Riteish, who is a popular Bollywood actor, and Dheeraj.
(Tributes to Vilasrao)
Among those in Latur to attend his funeral are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and other central and state ministers are also expected to attend it.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and other opposition leaders will also be present.
Congress workers expect over half a million people to join the funeral in the evening.
Born in Babhalgaon, Mr Deshmukh was elected village headman (sarpanch) and later went on to become the state Chief Minister and a union minister, before his death at the age of 67.
(With Inputs from IANS)