The mortal remains of Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ananth Kumar were consigned to flames with full state honours in Bengaluru on Tuesday after hundreds of mourners paid their last respect to the departed soul.
The funeral pyre was lit by Kumar's younger brother Nanda Kumar, who performed the last rites according to Smartha Brahmin traditions, amidst chanting of Vedic hymns by a battery of priests at the Chamarajapete cremation ground.
Kumar's tricolour-draped mortal remains were accorded a gun salute by military personnel in presence of his wife Tejaswini, daughters Aishwarya and Vijetha, other family members and, national and state leaders.
Chants of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and ‘Ananth Kumar Amar Rahe’ rent the air as leaders paid homage and the mortal remains were consigned to flames.
Veteran BJP leader and former deputy prime minister L K Advani, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president Amit Shah and state party chief B S Yeddyurappa and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi were present at the the last rites.
Also in attendance were Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mahesh Sharma, Vijay Goel and Sadananda Gowda.
Earlier, a steady stream of mourners led by Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, BJP workers, supporters and members of public paid their last respects to Kumar.
Hundreds of mourners filed past the body of Kumar, which lay in state at his residence till this morning and was then taken to the party state headquarters 'Jagannath Bhavan’ and the National College ground in his Bengaluru South parliamentary constituency.
From the Basavanagudi residence, the mortal remains were carried in a decorated military vehicle with personnel of the three services- the Army, Navy and the Air Force- accompanying it, amid slogans ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Ananth Kumar Amar Rahe’ by his supporters.
The body was later shifted to National College ground for the public to pay homage. The six-time MP was closely associated with the ground, having hosted many of his political events there.
The Vice-President, who had shared a special bond with Kumar, paid his last respects to his former colleague at the National College ground.
The mortal remains were later brought for the final rites at Chamarajapet in a procession, that was accompanied by hundreds of his supporters and general public, who raised slogans hailing the ‘most loved’ Bengaluru MP, known for his geniality and accessibility.
The Home Ministry had on Monday announced that a state funeral would be accorded to Kumar.
People had lined up on both sides of the roads on the final journey of Kumar, who was born into a middle class family and rose to great political heights, never looking back in his career spanning three decades.
The 59-year-old Bangalore South MP breathed his last during the early hours on Monday at the Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre where he was under care after returning home in October following treatment in the United States and Britain.
In New Delhi, the Union Cabinet condoled the demise of Kumar, saying under his ‘stewardship’ the BJP expanded in Karnataka and eventually formed a government of its own.
The special cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, noted that in the passing away of Kumar, the nation has lost an experienced leader, an official statement said.
The Cabinet also placed on record its appreciation of Kumar's services to the nation in different capacities and described his death as a loss of an experienced leader.
Modi had flown in to Bengaluru from Varanasi on Monday night and paid his homage.
The Karnataka government has declared a three-day state mourning.
Making his political debut in 1987, Kumar, a quintessential organisation man, had remained in the inner circle of the central leadership of the BJP -- be it during the heyday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Narendra Modi-- bearing testimony to the trust he enjoyed in the party's top echelon.
Kumar and Yeddyurappa are among the few leaders who built the BJP brick by brick, making it a force that it is today in Karnataka, which the party sees as a gateway to the south.
Breaking new ground, BJP came to power in Karnataka in 2008, making it the first saffron party government in the south, and emerged as the single largest party in the 2018 May polls also, though it fell short of majority by a few seats.
Kumar, who made his parliamentary foray in 1996 from the politically conscious Bangalore South, where he was invincible till his death, had also served as an important link between the state and centre at the party and government levels.