Actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth, who founded the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu in 2005, died on Thursday. He was 71 years old.

Vijayakanth was admitted to Chennai’s MIOT International Hospital last month on account of pneumonia and was put on ventilator support after his health deteriorated. He died on Thursday morning, the hospital said.

Vijayakanth had been ill and had been keeping a low profile for the last four to five years, reported the Hindustan Times. Around this time, his wife Premalatha formally took over the reins of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam on December 14 as she was declared the general secretary at a party meeting in Chennai.

Vijayakanth had been the party’s general secretary from June 1, 2014 to December 14. He was the leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly from 2011 to 2016.

Vijayakanth made his acting debut in 1979 with the Tamil film Innikum Ilamai. He achieved widespread success with the films Sattam Oru Iruttarai, Oomai Vizhigal and Sendura Poove.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Vijayakanth as a legend of the Tamil film world.

“His charismatic performances captured the hearts of millions,” he said. “As a political leader, he was deeply committed to public service, leaving a lasting impact on Tamil Nadu’s political landscape. His passing leaves a void that will be hard to fill. He was a close friend and I fondly recall my interactions with him over the years.”

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said he was deeply saddened by Vijayakanth’s death.

“His contributions to cinema and politics have left an indelible mark on the hearts of millions,” Gandhi tweeted. “My heartfelt condolences to his family and fans during this difficult time.”