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Mahajan cremated: Thousands bid farewell

By Staff
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Mumbai, May 4 (UNI) The mortal remains of BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan were consigned to flames with full state honours here this afternoon amid poignant scenes, marking the departure from the centre-stage of national politics of a personality, envied and admired both by associates and adversaries.

The funeral pyre of the 56-year-old leader, who was the BJP's 'poster boy' and crisis manager, was lit by his only son Rahul.

Mahajan died at the Hinduja Hospital yesterday losing a grim 12-day battle for survival after he was shot at point blank range by his younger brother Pravin at his residence on April 22.

Rahul was seen consoling his married sister Poonam, who broke down as the flames went up in the sky amid the cries of ''Pramod Mahajan Amar Rahe'' by a large crowd of BJP workers and sympathisers at the Shivaji Park cremation ground.

Later, a contingent of state police fired three rounds of shots in the air to pay homage to the departed leader, who was given a state funeral, since he was the Defence Minister in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Earlier, Mr Vajpayee, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Union Ministers Sharad Pawar, Murli Deora and Praful Patel, besides Chief Ministers of five BJP-ruled states and Mr Nitish Kumar of Bihar paid floral tributes to Mahajan.

Wreaths on behalf of President A P J Abdul Kalam were laid by Major General Vinod Chopra, while Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil represented Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

State Chief Secretary D K Shankaran laid ... picking up from para 8, line one of BY14, PEOPLE-MAHAJAN-THIRD LEAD HOMAGE.

UNI Team AT RP PM1542

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