Senior Congress leader, and former Maharashtra minister and MP Eknath Gaikwad succumbed to Covid here on Wednesday, party sources said. He was 81.
A two-time Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai, Gaikwad was the father of Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad.
His last rites were performed at the Shivaji Park electric crematorium with a few close family members present as per Covid protocols here this evening, an aide said.
Hailing from Dharavi, Gaikwad served as a Cabinet Minister in Maharashtra for several years and also functioned in various positions, including President of Mumbai Congress, especially during its most difficult political times.
Condolences poured in for the respected Dalit leader as news of his demise in a Mumbai hospital spread.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari condoled Gaikwad’s demise while the state cabinet led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray mourned his death this afternoon. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also condoled the leader’s demise.
Top leaders like NCP President Sharad Pawar, state Congress President Nana Patole, Ministers Balasaheb Thorat Ashok Chavan, Indian Youth Congress President Srinivas B.V., MPYC President Satyajeet Tambe, Vice President Brijkishore Dutt, MRCC Treasurer Bhushan Patil, All India Professionals Congress state Vice-President Sumedh Gaikwad, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, among others, also grieved Gaikwad’s death.
From the Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition in Council Pravin Darekar, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and party leader Urmila Matondkar, who described him as “a gentle and nice person”, mourned his passing.
Union Minister and Republican Party of India-A President Ramdas Athawale paid glowing tributes to the departed leader, describing him as his old political colleagues and a beloved leader of the Buddhist Ambedkarite masses.
“We had very close relations. He was instrumental in getting me elected to the Lok Sabha from Mumbai South-Central constituency in 1998 through the Congress-RPI alliance. The Dalit movement has lost a great leader and a guiding friend,” said Athawale.