R.K. Dhawan, once the powerful aide and confidant of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, died here on Monday in a hospital after a brief illness.
The 81-year-old Dhawan, who married only six years ago, had been unwell in the last five-six months and had been in and out of hospital, sources in his household said.
As Personal Secretary to Gandhi, Rajinder Kumar Dhawan wielded enormous clout with his presence in the PMO and the household, especially during Emergency, by keeping a hold on who got access to the Prime Minister.
He was a witness to India Gandhi's assassination in October 1984 and had appeared as witness before the Thakkar Commission of inquiry which pointed the needle of suspicion on him.
Deeply saddened by the news of passing away of Senior Congress leader Sh.RK Dhawan, a personality known for his immense loyalty, tough grind & decisiveness. He holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people. You will be dearly missed sir. May your soul RIP. pic.twitter.com/myB0xCLBuu— Amrita Dhawan (@AmritaDhawan1) August 6, 2018
Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded his mother Indira Gandhi, was not very enthusiastic about retaining Dhawan in his office. However, Dhawan made a comeback, rising to become a Member of Parliament and was inducted into the Congress Working Committee.
The Congress on Monday expressed sadness over the passing away of Dhawan whom it described as a valued member of the party.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congressman himself, said he was deeply shocked by the death of Dhawan who he said was a close associate and colleague in the party and the government.
Deeply shocked at passing away of Shri RK Dhawan. Though he was ailing I had never expected that the end will come so soon. A close associate and colleague in Party and Government, he will forever be fondly remembered.— Pranab Mukherjee (@CitiznMukherjee) August 6, 2018
"Though he was ailing, I had never expected that the end will come so soon," he tweeted, adding he would forever be fondly remembered.
Senior Congress leader and party General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said he was saddened by Dhawan's death. His contribution to the Congress would always be remembered, he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Dhawan's tireless spirit, immeasurable commitment and untiring dedication to the Congress ideals would always be 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. pic.twitter.com/Lx3LKAKK4Y— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 6, 2018
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said Dhawan would be remembered as an “astute politician and loyal soldier”. “Shocked and saddened at the demise of Shri RK Dhawan Ji. Had worked closely with him in @INCIndia and would always remember him as an astute politician and loyal soldier of the party. May he rest in peace and may God give his family the courage to bear the loss,” he posted on the micro-blogging site.
Shocked & saddened at the demise of Shri RK Dhawan Ji. Had worked closely with him in @INCIndia and would always remember him as an astute politician and loyal soldier of the party. May he rest in peace and may God give his family the courage to bear the loss.— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) August 6, 2018