The Congress veteran and twice Chief Minister of the state died at a hospital in Chennai this afternoon due to serious liver ailment.
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, in a condolence message from Pune, said the country had lost an "astute and pragmatic" leader with vast and varied experience in political life.
Calling Deshmukh a mass leader with the immense popularity, the Governor said his untimely death had snapped a "promising political career" and caused a void in the political scene of the state. He has also cancelled the Independence Day reception scheduled for tomorrow in Pune.
Describing Deshmukh as an "able administrator, a mass leader and distinguished parliamentarian", BJP president Nitin Gadkari said, "People of Maharashtra will never forget the work done by him for the benefit of the state.
"Deshmukh had a special interest in the development of Marathwada and Vidharbha. The Mihaan project went ahead because of his sincere efforts," Gadkari said, adding his death was a great loss for the Congress.
"It is a big jolt to the Congress. We learnt a lot from him," state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said. Thakre said the party will continue the good work started by Deshmukh.