Silence shrouded the streets leading to the state BJP office in Malleshwaram in Bengaluru on Tuesday morning, broken only by chants of "Ananth Kumar Amar Rahe" by people who had gathered outside the office.
Those who had gathered were herded to the sides of the road by barricades set up by the police. Media personnel had set up their cameras pointing towards the office and heads were hanging out of balconies of nearby buildings to get a glimpse of the goings on.
Senior BJP leaders had gathered to pay their final tributes to Union Minister Ananth Kumar who passed away on Monday. His body, wrapped in the tricolour, was taken from his residence to the state BJP office to allow well-wishers to pay their last respects. This included family members, party workers, leaders and members of the public who gathered at the party's office as the body was kept inside the office at 9 am. The leader had spent his final days with his wife Tejaswini and daughters Aishwarya and Vijeta.
The body was then taken to the National College Grounds at 11 am and eventually to the burial grounds in Chamarajpet where he was cremated with state honors.
The importance of the occasion was not lost on the BJP. Among the leaders who paid their tributes today included party president Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Fellow MPs from Bengaluru Rajeev Chandrasekhar and PC Mohan led the tributes alongside other senior state leaders like BS Yeddyurappa, R Ashok, CT Ravi and KS Eshwarappa. Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar are credited with building the BJP from scratch in the state in the 1980s.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Ananth Kumar's family late on Monday night and expressed his condolences. JD(S) leader GT Deve Gowda and several Congress leaders including Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and Dinesh Gundu Rao were also present.
The appreciation for Ananth Kumar rang from all corners. "His politics cut across party lines. I was familiar with him since 1983 when we were both student leaders. I was with the Congress and he was with the ABVP. In 1985, when I was given an Assembly ticket, he was one of the first persons to seek me out and wish me luck. We were good friends,” Shivakumar told reporters.
A three day mourning period was announced by the state government on Monday and a holiday was also declared in schools, colleges and government offices. It was clear that Ananth Kumar's demise was a loss to the state due to his closeness with the BJP's central leadership in Delhi.He passed away after being overcome by an illness. Several reports suggested that he was suffering from cancer and had sought treatment in the UK and US before he was hospitalised on October 21.
His demise has left the BJP with a void to fill in the state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but all those concerns were kept on hold on Tuesday as the party came together to accord a memorable farewell for their leader.