Veteran trade union leader Sharad Rao, 77, passed away, in Mumbai, on 1 September following a prolonged illness.
Rao, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, breathed his last on Thursday afternoon while he was being taken to Nanavati hospital for a physiotherapy session.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu condoled the trade unionist's death and tweeted, "Saddened to know about the passing away of Mr Sharad Rao, long time friend.Was a great trade union leader.Will miss him always RIP."
Saddened to know about the passing away of Mr Sharad Rao, long time friend.Was a great trade union leader.Will miss him always RIP— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) September 1, 2016
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also expressed grief on Sharad Rao's death and said he had a huge impact on the working class and will be remembered by all.
In his condolence message, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described Rao as veteran socialist and leader of the workers who was heading a number of effective labour unions. Rao gave leadership to Greater Mumbai Electric Supply and Transport Union, Mumbai Auto Rikshaw Union and Labourers of Mumbai Municipal Corporation, an official statement said.
Rao was heading several major trade unions in Mumbai, including the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) union, which runs public transport buses in the city, and Mumbai Autorickshawsmen's Union, which represents majority of auto rickshaw drivers there.
He is survived by his wife Shanta, son Shashank and daughter Shilpa.
"He had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in November 2014, following which he underwent a surgery and his oesophagus was extracted. Since then, a tube had been inserted in his stomach and he was kept on a liquid diet," Rao's son Shashank told PTI.
"He had been undergoing regular physiotherapy sessions since then. Today, while he was being taken to Nanavati Hospital for a physiotherapy session, his condition turned serious on the way. We immediately admitted him to the casualty ward of that hospital, where doctors declared him dead on arrival," he added.
Rao had taken over the control of trade unions run by veteran socialist leader George Fernandes after the latter moved to national politics.
"George Fernandes spotted the leadership quality of Sharad Rao and on his request he left his job in Hindustan Lever and joined Mumbai labour union as a secretary," A L Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximens Union, said in his condolence message.
Expressing grief over Rao's demise, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said people from both organised and unorganised sectors have lost a leader, who stood up for their cause without any fear.
"He had a huge impact over the working class. Be it BMC employees, BEST workers, autorickshaw and taxi drivers. He stood up for all when they needed him till his last breath. He will be remembered by all," he said.
Rao's body will be kept in Nanavati Hospital till Saturday, after which it will be taken to his residence in the city for family members and associates to pay their last respects.
--inputs from PTI