New Delhi, May 1 : Several leaders paid homage to Dr. Nirmala Despande, Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, who passed away this morning.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani were seen at the mourning ceremony where they laid the wreath and paid homage to the leader.
Ansari while expressing his deep grief said, "It was a deep sense of sorrow that I received the shocking news of the passing away of Nirmala Deshpande."
"An eminent Gandhian, social worker and a respected public figure, Nirmala Deshpande served the country with distinction. Her immense contributions to the empowerment of women, promotion of communal harmony and towards rural development was undertaken within the framework of Gandhian thought and philosophy," he added.
While Dr. Singh said, "I was deeply saddened by the news of the sudden passing away of Nirmala Deshpande in the early hours of this morning. She was a living Gandhian. She dedicated her life to the cause of the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized in our society."
After paying homage to Nirmala Deshpande, Advani said that India has lost a 'dedicated Gandhian' and the loss cannot be undone.
Meanwhile, in his condolence message, Minister of Railways Lalu Prasad said that Nirmala Deshpande devoted her life to the cause of the poor and the down trodden.
"Her work at the Gandhi Global Peace Centre is testimony to her deep commitment to create a good, peaceful and equitable society based on ideas and ideals of the Father of our Nation. She was also known to be a great votary of secularism and communal harmony. Her contribution to the nation will be remembered for long," Lalu said.
Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi also condoled the passing away of Nirmala Deshpande.
Better known as 'Didi', she was conferred the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award in August 2006.
Deshpande was also conferred with the Padma Vibhushan Award, the second highest civilian honour, in January 2006, for her social initiative including development of Gandhi Global Peace Centre at Gandhi Ashram Kingsway Camp in Delhi.
"Her work at the Gandhi Global Peace Centre at Gandhi Ashram in Delhi is testimony to her deep commitment to the ideas and ideals of the Father of the Nation," Dr. Singh added.
In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.