New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) Veteran BJP leader L K Advani on Monday expressed extreme shock at the death of Ananth Kumar, who was a core member of his team for a long time, and said the Union minister’s demise at such an early age is “even a bigger and irreparable loss to all of us and the country”.

Advani described Kumar, who died of cancer at the age of 59 years, as a distinguished and outstanding Parliamentarian who had a forceful presence in the House and who played a significant role in the BJP.

“He was a remarkable leader who entered public life at a young age and had tremendous willpower and had carved a special niche for himself in politics,” the 91-year-old leader said in a statement.

“I am extremely shocked and saddened by the untimely demise of Union Minister Shri Ananth Kumar. Such an early age demise is even a bigger and irreparable loss to all of us and the country,” he added.

The Karnataka leader was a close confidante of Advani when the latter called the shots in the party.

When he was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Kumar was a key strategist for his campaign. The BJP, however, had lost the elections as the Congress-led UPA had returned to power for another term.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.