Veteran industrialist Rahul Bajaj died at 83 on Saturday in Pune, reported Moneycontrol. The former chairperson of Bajaj Auto had been reportedly suffering from pneumonia.

He also had a heart ailment. He had been undergoing treatment at Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune since the past month.

The industrialist died in the “presence of his closest family members”, a statement from the Bajaj Group said. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he will accorded a state funeral on Sunday, PTI reported.

In April 2021, Bajaj stepped down from his post as chairperson of Bajaj Auto, the second-largest motorcycle producer in India.

He had spent more than 50 years heading the firm, according to CNBCTV18.

After he stepped down as chairperson, he was appointed as the company’s chairman emeritus for five years on May 1, 2021. A former Rajya Sabha member, Bajaj was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 2001.

Tributes pour in

Tributes poured in for Bajaj on Saturday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi mourned his death.

The prime minister said Bajaj will be “remembered for his noteworthy contributions to the world of commerce and industry”. Kovind said the industrialist was a “doyen of Indian industry”, adding that his career reflected the rise and innate strength of the country’s corporate sector.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari said Bajaj was a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. “I have had a personal relationship with Padma Bhushan awardee Rahul ji for many years,” he said in a tweet. “May God rest the departed soul and give strength to the family members.”

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Bajaj always “spoke truth to power”. “Together in RS [Rajya Sabha], he and I shared many lighter moments in central hall and at dinner at his house during session.”

Congress leader Milind Deora also expressed his condolences at the death. “Hard to come to grips with the news that India’s most outspoken industrialist, Rahul Bajaj is no more,” he wrote on Twitter. “Many of us knew of Rahul uncle’s health was deteriorating but the news of his passing comes as a shock.”

In 2019, Bajaj called out the Modi government for being intolerant of dissent and creating an atmosphere of fear.

“You [the government] are doing good work and despite that, we don’t have the confidence that you’ll appreciate criticism,” the industrialist had said at an event organised by the Economic Times in Mumbai where Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal were present.

Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said that she was “devastated” by the news. The country, she said, has lost a “great son” and a “nation builder”.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar remembered Bajaj as a philanthropist who was like a “lighthouse” for young entrepreneurs. “The grandson of eminent freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj brought transformation in society especially in poor and middle-class people with his two-wheel technology a Bajaj Bike,” he added.

Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule also expressed grief at Bajaj’s death, describing him as among India’s foremost business leaders, who was an inspiration to all. “We will miss him dearly and his wise counsel,” she said in a tweet.