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Goodbye, Duttsaab
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi paid their respects to veteran actor and Union minister Sunil Dutt, who died in Mumbai on May 25, 2005.

Singh and Gandhi drove to Dutt's residence at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra and met his family members. Maharashtra Governor S M Krishna accompanied the Prime Minister and the Congress president to Dutt's residence.

Among those who accompanied Singh and Gandhi to the Dutt's residence were Congress leaders Ambika Soni, Rahul Gandhi, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, Congress general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Margaret Alva and senior party leader Ahmed Patel.

Dr Singh condoled Dutt's death remembering his "purposeful and socially relevant" roles in films and his commitment to social service and public causes. "Deeply influenced by our ethos and traditions, he brought to bear on his thinking and outlook the liberal, secular and Gandhian values of our society," Singh said.

The Prime Minister also recalled how Dutt, with his actress wife Nargis, organised the Ajanta Arts Welfare Troupe to entertain jawans in the border areas during the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, and how he used his artistic talent to mobilise public opinion for the fight against cancer.

On Dutt the politician, Singh said he was an eminent Parliamentarian and used Parliament as an effective forum for promoting communal harmony, a variety of social causes and youth affairs.

The government has declared a day's mourning.

Gandhi described Dutt as "a special human being". "Of course he played wonderful role in Indian cinema and politics. Whenever there was a problem, if there was a communal problem, he was there first."

She recalled that when the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was out of power, he was always by her side at a time when many people had left her.

Gandhi said that Dutt took his job as a Minister "so seriously" and was working very hard.

Everybody would miss him, she said echoing the feelings of the political fraternity, which was well-represented at Dutt's funeral on Wednesday.

Photographs: Jewella C Miranda

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