Pramod Mahajan consigned to flames
Mumbai, May 4 : The mortal remains of BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan were cosigned to flames amid chanting of vedic mantras here this afternoon.
The pyre of the 56-year-old leader was lit by his only son Rahul.
He was seen consoling his married sister Poonam, who broke down as the flames went up in the sky amid slogans 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 into the air to pay homage to the departed leader, who was given a state funeral.
Mahajan was the Defence Minister in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
After the last post was sounded, a contingent of 16 cops reversed arms as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
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, who died yesterday fighting gunshot injuries for 12 days.
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 wreath on behalf of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, while former Uttar Pradesh Governor Moti Lal Vora paid floral respects on behalf of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
NDA convenor George Fernandes had to be helped by former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to enable him to pay his respects to the departed leader.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, RSS chief K Sudarshan and VHP secretary-general Pravin Togadia also paid floral tributes to Mahajan. Maharashtra Governor S M Krishna and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh paid their homage by placing wreaths on his body. Chief Ministers of five BJP-ruled States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand --Mr Shivraj Chauhan, Mr Narendra Modi, Ms Vasundhra Raje, Mr Raman Singh and Mr Arjun Munda -- respectively, paid floral tributes.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and Punjab former Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal were among those who paid floral respects.
As the VIPs started leaving the cremation ground, a large number of BJP workers and sympathisers broke police barricades and entered the ground shouting slogans of '' Jab tak suraj chand rahega Pramod tera naam rahega.'' Many of them weeping, rushed to the flaming and several of them broke down even as BJP leaders tried to persuade them to leave the cremation ground.
BJP leader Pramod Mahajan's last journey begins