Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Goa Francis D’Souza died after a prolonged battle with cancer on Thursday. He was 64. D’Souza was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Goa after undergoing surgery for cancer in the United States of America.

Ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed his sorrow over D’Souza’s death. “Extremely pained to hear about the demise of my dear childhood friend, colleague and former deputy Chief Minister of Goa Francis D’Souza,” Parrikar tweeted. “A wonderful human being and a leader loved by all. He devoted himself to public service. His demise is a great personal loss.”

In September, Parrikar dropped D’Souza and Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar from his Cabinet citing their ill health. Madkaikar had suffered a stroke.

With D’Souza’s death, BJP’s strength in the 40-member Goa Assembly is down to 13, according to PTI. His death came days after the demise of Vishnu Surya Wagh, a BJP MLA and former deputy Speaker, in South Africa.

“We lost an iconic leader who started his career from scratch as councillor and rose to a topmost post,” Goa BJP spokesperson Damodar Naik said. “He is an icon for all the upcoming leaders as to how a person should be, and he was loyal to the party till his last breath.”