Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday described ex-chief minister Tarun Gogoi as one of his dearest friends from Assam and said the country has lost a very good leader who always worked for the betterment of the poor and downtrodden.

Gogoi died in Guwahati on Monday while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications. He was 84.

In his condolence message to the former chief minister’s wife Dolly Gogoi, Singh said he was the most popular leader from Assam who had a pleasant nature.

“I was deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely passing away of your beloved husband Shri Tarun Gogoi ji. He was one of my dearest friends from the state of Assam,” Singh wrote.

“Shri Tarun Gogoi ji was the most popular leader from Assam who served six terms as a member of Parliament and has led the party to a record three consecutive electoral victories in the state of Assam as chief minister,” Singh said in his letter.

“With his hard work, pleasant nature and popularity, he became one of the tallest leaders of the state, who led the Congress party in Assam for a long time. In his death our country, especially the state of Assam, has lost a very good leader who always worked for the betterment of the poor and downtrodden people of the society,” the former prime minister said.

Singh, who has been a Rajya Sabha member from Assam for five terms since 1991, conveyed his condolences to Gogoi”s family and prayed for his departed soul.

“We pray to the Almighty to give all of you the strength to bear this great loss with courage and fortitude,” he said.

Gogoi was the chief minister of Assam from 2001 to 2016, a six-time parliamentarian and Union minister twice.

Several leaders from the Congress and the BJP in Rajasthan, including Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, condoled the demise of former Gogoi.

State Governor Kalraj Mishra and Assembly Speaker C P Joshi also expressed anguish over Gogoi’s death. (PTI)