Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday paid rich tributes to former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral describing him as a "scholar-statesman" and said the loss from his death will be felt not only in India but across the world.
In a condolence message, Singh termed Gujral as "an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician" who left a mark in every position he held.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of former Prime Minister Shri I K Gujral.... I personally have lost a friend of long standing, whose wisdom, idealism and deep concern for social equity left a great impression on me and whose counsel and opinion I often sought and valued greatly," Singh said.
He described Gujral as "a man of peace, an idealist who lived by his principles and an intellectual with the human touch" and said his long and distinguished career was marked by diverse political and diplomatic responsibilities.
"In his passing away, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician whose liberal and humanist vision was rooted in the teachings of the leaders of our freedom movement," Singh said.
"No matter what portfolio he held, what shone through always was his sincerity and warmth, compassion for his fellow human beings and the legacy of strongly-held socialist beliefs from his youthful experiences," the message said, adding "these qualities of head and heart enabled him to make his mark in every office he held."
Singh underlined that as prime minister, Gujral had set an "example of grace under pressure, of composure in difficult circumstances and of steadfastness to principles."
He noted that Gujral had provided a "steady hand at the helm" at a time when a largely coalition-based polity adjusted to rapid political and social change.