Murli Deora, Congress MP and former union minister, passes away

Former union minister and senior Congress leader Murli Deora Former union minister and senior Congress leader Murli Deora passed away in Mumbai in the early hours of the day. The 77-year-old was suffering from cancer and has been ailing for some time now.

Deora is a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha.

Deora, who had been discharged from the Breach Candy hospital in the city just two days ago died at 3:25 am.

His body has been kept at the Congress office in Mumbai from 12 noon to 2 pm for party workers to pay their last respects. His body was cremated at the Chandanvadi crematorium at 3 pm.

In his condolence message to his wife Hema Deora, the President said, ''It was with profound sorrow that I learnt of the sad demise of Shri Murli Deora, an esteemed colleague and long-standing friend.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on the passing of Murli Deora.

"A dedicated leader, Shri Murli Deora's warm nature made him popular across party lines. News of his demise is saddening. My deepest condolences to Smt Milind Deora and the Deora family on Shri Murli Deora`s demise. May his soul rest in peace,'' he said, adding, ''Just yesterday I had spoken to Shri Murli Deora's family and asked about his health. Very sad to hear the unfortunate news today."

Murli Deora, who held several important portfolios during his decades-long career, first contested the civic elections in Mumbai in 1975.

An economics graduate, Deora was the Mayor of Mumbai from 1977-78 and was later elected to the Lok Sabha four times from Mumbai South, a seat later held by his son, Milind, who is also a former MP and an ex-union minister.

He was minister of petroleum and natural gas during the UPA-1 regime. He had also served as the president of Congress's Mumbai unit for 22 years.

He joined the union cabinet in 2006, shortly before he turned 70 and led oil diplomacy in Myanmar, Algeria and Egypt, and held talks with ministers from Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia and Comoros.

Mr Deora also hosted the first India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference and Exhibition in November 2007.

Deora was an avid bridge player and used to partner some of the biggest names of corporate India in the game. He was also a bridge between the Congress and Mumbai's corporate world.

The Congress veteran is survived by his wife and two sons, including former MP and ex-union minister Milind Deora.