India declared a five-day state mourning while Parliament adjourned for the day as a mark of respect to Nelson Mandela on Friday. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined world leaders in paying rich tributes to the former South African president and anti-apartheid icon.
A giant among men has passed away. This is as much Indias loss as South Africas. He was a true Gandhian, the PM said. He said not only did he represent the conscience of the world,he also remained a beacon of hope for those struggling against oppression and injustice long after he had led his own people to victory over such ills.
India,in particular,had great affection and regard for him. His mission was a great inspiration and moral bulwark for our principled struggle against apartheid. It also mirrored our own hope for a better world and we were greatly honoured when he accepted the highest Indian civilian award of Bharat Ratna, Singh said.
While President Mukherjee recalled Mandela as a great friend of India whose contribution for strengthening the close ties between our two countries will be always remembered,Vice-President Hamid Ansari said Mandela represented the best of human spirit and values.
The cabinet held a special meeting to mourn Mandelas death. Mandela was the tallest leader of not only his generation but possibly this entire paradigm…. The role that he personally played in dismantling the apartheid is something exemplary, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said after the cabinet meeting.
Sombre mood prevailed in the two Houses as presiding officers,Vice-President Hamid Ansari (Rajya Sabha) and Speaker Meira Kumar (Lok Sabha),made obituary references as soon as the Houses met.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi underlined the courage,sacrifice and forgiveness of Madiba,whom she described as South Africas Mahatma Gandhi. Home Minister and Leader of Lok Sabha Sushil Kumar Shinde and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj along with several other members of the House also paid tributes to Mandela.
The Congress Working Committee met in the evening at short notice and passed a resolution condoling the death.