Thousands pay last homage to their beloved leader

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New Delhi, Aug 3 (UNI) Former prime ministers, senior diplomats, union ministers along with thousands of mourners thronged the CPI(M) headquarters A K Gopalan Bhavan here today to pay their last respects to the vetran communist and CPI(M) patriarch H S Surjeet, who passed away on Friday.

Amid the chanting of slogans '' comrade Surjeet amar rahe'' and '' comrade Surjeet ko lal salaam,'' they paid floral tributes to the last remains of comrade Surjeet, which was placed for over four hours for the 'antim darshan' for the party activists and the people in general.

With white turban on head and spectacles, Surjeet's body was placed in front of the party headquarters where long queues were seen. While the mourners placed wreaths and rose petals on the body, party top leaders-- Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, S R Pillai and Brinda Karat-- stood in silence.

Surjeet's wife Pritam Kaur and his two sons Gurchetan and Paramjeet were also present.

Former prime minister H D Devegowda, who stayed for about half-an-hour said Surjeet played a key role in introducing coalition politics in the country.

Former prime minister I K Gujral said the void created by Surjeet's death was difficult to fill.

TDP chief and convener of the UNPA Chandrababu Naidu recalled his personal association with Surjeet saying that the communist leader played a pivotal role in bringing the non-BJP, non-Congress parties on a single platform with a view to keep the communal forces at bay.

The others who paid the tribute included Union Ministers A K Antony, Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan, Vyalar Ravi, M S Gill, Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, BJP leader Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and V K Malhotra, S P Leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh and Akali Dal Leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Left leaders D Raja and Aban Roy, TRS leader Chandrashekhar Rao, AGP leader Virendra Vaish, ambassadors of China, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, North Korea and the Communist Party of Nepal.

Wreaths on behalf of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, UP Chief Minister Mayawati, DMK Chief and CPI(M) state units were palced on the body of Surjeet.

Earliar in the morning Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh visited Surjeet's residence to condole his death.

UNI KSA GT AS1446

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