The mortal remains of former Commerce Minister and DMK ideologue, Murasoli Maran, were consigned to flames on Monday evening at Besant Nagar in south Chennai, with full state honours.
A gun salute was accorded to the late leader before he was laid in the furnace of the crematorium at about 1845 IST.
Maran, a master strategist
Prime Minister, A B Vajpayee, former Prime Minister, I K Gujral, Defence Minister, George Fernandes, several central ministers, Tamil Nadu Governor, P S Ramamohan Rao, TDP leader, Yerran Naidu and leaders of various political parties and film personalities attended the funeral.
Vajpayee, Gujral and Fernandes paid their respect by placing wreaths on the body before it was taken for the last rites.
Earlier, the body, draped in the national tri-colour, was placed in a flower-decked military van that wound its way to the crematorium. People lined the roads to have a last glimpse of the departed leader.
A grief-stricken former state Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, who is also Maran's maternal uncle, and other VIPs accompanied the funeral procession.
The 69-year-old leader who was ailing for quite some time died at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai on Sunday evening.
The ailing leader was flown on November 14, 2002, to the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, for treatment of his heart, kidney and other vital organs. He had been in coma for many weeks. He was brought back to India and admitted to the Apollo Hospital in September this year.
The DMK announced a week's mourning to condole his death.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said it was a personal loss for him.
Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley said, "We deeply mourn the passing away of Maran. He will be remembered as a statesman and politician of outstanding calibre."
His contribution in the field of commerce and industry was immense, Jaitley said, adding Maran left an indelible impression after he stoutly defended India's interests at the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation negotiations.
Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna said Maran had set exemplary standards in public life. His contributions as Union minister, particularly in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, were significant, he added.