NEW DELHI: Expressing deep pain at the death of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that coming generations will remain forever grateful to him for his contributions towards India’s “cultural regeneration”.

Modi said he was saddened beyond words at his demise.

Singh was firmly rooted in Indian values and took pride in its centuries-old traditions, he said and lauded him as a “statesman, veteran administrator, grassroots level leader and great human”.

He leaves behind an indelible contribution towards the development of Uttar Pradesh, the prime minister said.

Modi spoke to Singh’s son Rajveer Singh, a Lok Sabha MP of the BJP, to convey his condolences.

“Kalyan Singh Ji gave voice to crores of people belonging to the marginalised sections of society. He made numerous efforts towards the empowerment of farmers, youngsters and women,” he said.

Singh (89), who had been ailing for some time, breathed his last on Saturday night, the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) in Lucknow said.

Singh was closely associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

The Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished when he was the state’s chief minister in 1992.

The Supreme Court had in 2019 handed over the disputed site to Hindu bodies, paving the way for the beginning of the construction of Ram temple there.

A backward caste leader, Singh was instrumental in the rise of the BJP to power in Uttar Pradesh in 1990s.

In a series of tweets in Hindi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said it was rare to find a great personality like Singh — a staunch nationalist who lived in the hearts of the people.

The home minister said Singh, as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had delivered good governance with his devotion and political skills and ran a public welfare government free from fear and crime which was an excellent role model for the governments to come for its unprecedented reforms in the field of education.

“I bow down to such a great and ideal life dedicated to the nation, religion and people. The country and the entire BJP family is mourning his death,” he said.

Shah said Singh, through his diligence, while holding various constitutional posts, made his unique contribution to the progress of the country by connecting the farmers, poor and deprived sections with the mainstream of development.

“With the death of Kalyan Singh ji, the country has lost a true patriot, honest and devout politician today.

Babuji was such a huge tree, under whose shadow the organisation of BJP flourished and expanded.

As a true worshiper of cultural nationalism, he served the country and the people throughout his life,” he said.

The home minister said the country and the generations to come will always be indebted to Singh for his immense contribution.

“May God give him a place at his feet,” he said.

Singh (89), who had been ailing for some time, breathed his last on Saturday night at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) in Lucknow.

Describing Kalyan Singh as a stalwart of Indian politics, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said with his demise, he has has lost his elder brother and a companion.

“Kalyan Singh’s death is a great loss for Indian politics and a very sad moment for me,” he said in a series of tweets.

Rajnath Singh, who had succeeded Kalyan Singh as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, said the latter was associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and played an important role in the Ram temple movement.

“Pained by the demise of former Chief Minister of UP, Shri Kalyan Singh. He was a nationalist and an exemplary leader who was deeply committed to serving people. My thoughts are with his bereaved family and followers,” the Vice President Secretariat tweeted, quoting Venkaiah Naidu.

“Kalyan Singh ji had a magical connect with masses. As chief minister of UP, he determinedly pursued clean politics and purged governance of criminals and corruption,” President Ram Nath Kovind said in a message on Twitter.

“He dignified the offices he held. His demise leaves a vacuum in public life. My heartfelt condolences,” Kovind said.