Rajinder Kumar Dhawan, former Congress MP and personal secretary to Indira Gandhi when she was Prime Minister, died in a private hospital here on Monday evening.
He was being treated for age-related ailments, said people close to the family.
The 81-year-old Dhawan, who married in his mid-70s, had been unwell in the past five or six months and had been in and out of hospital, sources in his household said.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee expressed shock at his demise.
“Though he was ailing, I had never expected that the end will come so soon,” he tweeted and added that he would forever be fondly remembered.
“Our homage to veteran Congress leader, Sh. R.K. Dhawan, who breathed his last today. His tireless spirit, immeasurable commitment & untiring dedication to the Congress ideals will always be remembered. RIP,” the Congress’s communications in-charge, Randeep Surjewala, tweeted.
Better known as R.K. Dhawan, he had emerged as a power centre both in Indira Gandhi’s PMO and her household.
During the Emergency, commentators have written how Mrs. Gandhi’s aide was key in deciding who got access to the Prime Minister.
A witness to Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984, he had deposed before the Thakkar Commission of inquiry.
Rajiv Gandhi, however, did not retain him in his office when he took over as Prime Minister.
Mr. Dhawan made a comeback by becoming not only an MP but also a member of the Congress Working Committee.
The Congress on Monday expressed condolence over his death and described him as a valued member of the party.
Senior Congress leader and party general secretary Ashok Gehlot said he was saddened by Mr. Dhawan’s death.
His contribution to the Congress would always be remembered, he said.
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