New Delhi, Nov 15 : Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has expressed grief at the demise of the veteran leader and former Minister Ajit Panja.
In his message, Dr Singh said, "I am deeply grieved to learn of the sad demise of Ajit Panja.
"He was a prominent leader of our country. He had the distinction of representing the people in Parliament for six terms. He served the country with distinction as Minister in the Government of India, holding a number of key portfolios. He was a man of the arts and his impressive performance as Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa in the play Nati Binodini earned him recognition and admiration at the national level. In his death the country has lost a well known personality whose contribution to our public life would be long remembered," he added.
Dr Singh further said that "On this sad occasion, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the members of his bereaved family and to all those who followed him and respected him as their friend and valued leader."
Panja died of cancer at a private hospital in Kolkata on Friday morning. He was 72 and is survived by his son and daughter.
He was born in Kolkata in 1936 and studied in the Scottish Church College and Lincoln's Inn. He was a member of Supreme Court Bar Association and Calcutta High Court Bar Association. A lawyer by profession, Panja was a six-time MP and a former union minister. He was also a brilliant actor who essayed the role of Ramakrishna Paramhans on stage effectively.
Panja was elected to the West Bengal Assembly in 1971 for the first time and was Minister for Health and Family Planning in the Siddhartha Shankar Ray Government from 1972 to 1977. He became the president of the Congress party unit in West Bengal in 1980. In 1984,he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Calcutta North East constituency.