FORMER UNION external affairs minister and four-time chief minister of Gujarat, veteran Congress leader Madhavsinh Solanki was Sunday cremated with full state honours. His last rites were performed by his son and former Union minister Bharatsinh Solanki at a crematorium near Gujarat Congress headquarters at Paldi area in Ahmedabad.
Madhavsinh (93) died at his residence in Gandhinagar Saturday. On Sunday, his body was brought to Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan, the state headquarters of the Congress, where hundreds of workers paid their last respect to the departed leader. The entire state leadership of the party, including its state in-charge Rajeev Satav, party president Amit Chavda, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Paresh Dhanani and working president Hardik Patel, were also present on the occasion.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi sent their floral tributes to Madhavsinh through their representatives.
A written message of condolence from Sonia Gandhi to Bharatsinh Solanki was also read out at the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan where Madhavsinh’s body was kept for around an hour.
Other senior leaders of the party, like Madhusudan Mistry, Deepak Babariya, Shaktisinh Gohil and several Congress party MLAs, were also present on the occasion.
Volunteers of the Congress Seva Dal gave a guard of honour to Madhavsinh after which the body, wrapped in Tri-colour, was taken to the crematorium where the Gujarat police gave the veteran politician a guard of honour.
Bharatsinh, who was in the United States, arrived Sunday after the death of his father. Speaking with media persons, Bharatsinh said his father was his “friend, philosopher and guide”.
“Wherever I am today is because of my father. He was my friend, philosopher and guide, always standing by my side like a rock. Gujarat knows him very well. In the six decades of his public life, he served the people,” he said.
Bharatsinh also recollected his father’s contribution to the development of Gujarat through various initiatives like mid-day meal scheme in schools, free education for girls in Gujarat among others. In 1984, Madhavsinh Solanki led a historic victory of the Congress in the state assembly by winning 149 seats, a record which is hitherto unbroken.