Chandigarh, Nov 30 (IANS) Describing former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who passed away in a Gurgaon hospital Friday after prolonged illness, as a "true son of the soil", Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday said the state would always be indebted to him.
"Gujral was a true son of the soil as he was instrumental in waiving off the long pending debt of Punjab during his brief stint as the prime minister," Badal said.
Expressing grief over the death of Gujral, Badal said he was "true patriot, an eminent statesman, able administrator and distinguished parliamentarian, besides a fine human being with rare qualities of head and heart".
Recalling his long association with the departed leader, Badal said the former prime minister would always be ready to resolve any issue related to Punjab.
"Punjabis would forever remember Mr Gujral's immense contribution in ushering an era of unprecedented development and progress in the state."
"Having deep regard and passion for Punjabi culture, language and literature, he was a true votary of Punjab, Punjabi and Panjabiat," Badal said, terming his demise as "a personal loss".
Having represented Punjab in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the former prime minister had a strong bond with Punjab.
Gujral's son, Naresh Gujral, is a sitting Rajya Sabha member from Punjab and a senior leader of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in the state.
Gujral represented Punjab for two terms in the Rajya Sabha (1964-1970 and 1970-1976). At that time, he was member the Congress party.
He contested and won the election from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency in 1989. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from the same constituency in 1998.
In Punjab's Kapurthala town, 180 km from here, the Pushpa Gujral Science City is named after his mother.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the late former prime minister always supported Punjab at every level.
Saying that the "country will miss a great visionary", Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh said that Gujral "was much more than a politician". He said the late leader advocated improved relations with neighbouring countries.