BJP today paid glowing tributes to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with top party leaders hailing him as a "statesman", "staunch nationalist" and "a great son of India" whose death has caused an "irreparable loss" to the country.
As top saffron leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, showered encomiums on the departed leader, it was as much a nod to the political acumen and stature of the man whose party (PDP) was long accused by BJP of nursing soft separatism before they joined hands last year, paving the way for him to rule the state for a second time.
"He was a rare politician, a popular CM and an efficient administrator. He ceaselessly worked for the state's development. The demise of Sayeed is an irreparable loss not only for Jammu & Kashmir but for the entire country. His death has created a void in politics which is difficult to fill," Shah said.
BJP veteran L K Advani noted that the former Union Home Minister had survived several attacks on his life by Kashmiri separatists opposed to Indian rule and hailed him for "successfully" leading the BJP-PDP coalition government. "He was a very popular leader," he said.
Union Minister and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari described Sayeed as a "staunch nationalist" who always worked for the development of Jammu and Kashmir and devoted his entire life to the welfare of all its regions.
"His death has left a great void in the politics of J&K.
Mufti Sahab will be remembered as a great son of India," Gadkari said in his effusive tribute.
Earlier, Modi hailed him for providing a healing touch to J&K through his leadership.
"He will be missed by all of us. Condolences to his family and supporters. What stood out about Mufti Sahab was his statesmanship. In his long political journey he won many admirers across the political spectrum," Modi said.
Expressing sadness over his death, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Sayeed passed away when the country and the state needed him the most.
"A true statesman amongst the politicians of the current era," he said.
Sayeed, 79, passed away at AIIMS where he was hospitalised on December 24.