Senior Congress leader Rajinder Kumar Dhawan died on Monday, August 6 in Delhi. He was 81. He breathed his last at the BL Kapur Hospital around 7 pm, sources close to his family said. Dhawan, who married only six years ago, had been unwell in the last five-six months and had been in and out of hospital,
The former Rajya Sabha MP, once the powerful aide and confidant of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, served Mrs Gandhi from 1962 till her death in 1984. He began as her personal assistant and was a witness to her assassination in October 1984.
Dhawan later became a Member of Parliament and was inducted into the Congress Working Committee.
The Congress party on Monday expressed sadness over the passing away of Dhawan, whom it described as a valued member of the party. “We're saddened to hear about the passing away of RK Dhawan, a valued member of the Congress party. Our thought and prayers are with his family tonight,” tweeted the Congress party on Monday night.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congressman himself, said he was deeply shocked by the death of Dhawan who he said was a close associate and colleague in the party and the government. “Deeply shocked at passing away of Shri RK Dhawan. Though he was ailing I had never expected that the end will come so soon. A close associate and colleague in Party and Government, he will forever be fondly remembered,” tweeted Mukherjee.
"Our homage to veteran Congress leader, RK Dhawan, who breathed his last today. His tireless spirit, immeasurable commitment and untiring dedication to the Congress ideals will always be remembered. RIP," tweeted Congress' communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala.
“Saddened by the passing away of senior Congress leader and former RajyaSabha MP Sh. RK Dhawan ji... His contribution for Congress party will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family members in this hour of grief. May God give them strength to bear this loss. RIP,” said Congress party-incharge of organisation, Ashok Gehlot.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said “Shocked & saddened at the demise of Shri RK Dhawan Ji. Had worked closely with him in Congress and would always remember him as an astute politician and loyal soldier of the party. May he rest in peace and may God give his family the courage to bear the loss.”
Samajwadi Party leader Sompal Shastri, a former union minister and former member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, told National Herald, “He was a very good friend of mine. We were ideologically opposed to each other, but politics never affected our personal bonding. I remember him for three things: His greatest quality in my view was his loyalty to Indira Gandhi and the Gandhi family; he was very humble and soft-spoken, yet firm and decisive; and he was very punctual. He did not like those who did not respect time.”
“Besides, I will remember him as an achiever. Very few people know that he was a migrant from Pakistan. His family came to India from Pakistan. He did not come from civil services yet Indira ji appointed him as her secretary because he had a very sound, in-depth understanding of administration and policy-related issues. Being a migrant, the kind of name, respect and space he had created for himself Indian politics is rare,” added Shastri.
“Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of veteran Congress leader Shri RK Dhawan. My heartfelt condolences to his family members in this hour of grief. May your soul RIP,” said BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal.
With IANS inputs
*Developing story; will be updated