Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condoled the demise of former President K R Narayanan, who breathed his last at the RR Hospital in New Delhi at 05:45 PM on Wednesday.
In his message, Dr Singh said, "On this sad occasion, I join the people of India and convey our heartfelt condolences p his beloved wife Usha Narayanan, members of the bereaved family and to his countless friends, admirers, associates and followers."
The prime minister said Narayanan's presidentship will always be looked upon for his landmark role in preserving and protecting our Constitution and secular ethos, and for passionately articulating the concerns of the underprivileged sections of the Indian society.
He recollected that Pandit Nehru, the country's first prime minister, had in 1955 described him as the best diplomat of the country.
"Well known for his probity and his integrity, he was Gandhian in his outlook and championed the cause of democracy, equality, women's empowerment and secularism till his very end," Dr Singh said.
"Sagacious personality of our public life, we turned to him for guidance and advice. It will be very difficult to fill the void caused by the death of a statesman of such great eminence, vision and ability," he added.
Government of India announced seven days' state mourning on the death of former President K R Narayanan. The flag will fly at half mast from Wednesday during the period of the mourning.
This was announced by Union Home Secretary Mr V K Duggal at 7, Race Course Road after a cabinet meeting.
Narayanan's creamation will take place in Delhi at 4.30 PM between Shanti Sthal and Vijay Ghat where two of India's former presidents, Gyani Zail Singh and Shankar Dayal Sharma were cremated.
The body of the former president will be kept at Kapurtala house in New Delhi between 11 AM and 3 PM before the final journey to the cremation grounds.
Duggal said the cabinet condoled Narayanan's death and paid glowing tributes to him for his contribution as a civil servant, minister and president, particularly for his work for the downtrodden.
The President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam has cancelled his Jammu and Kashmir tour.