Veteran Congress leader Makhan Lal Fotedar passed away on Thursday at the age of 85. Fotedar breathed his last at Gurugram’s Medanta hospital, on the outskirts of Delhi.

According to Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr. A K Dubey, Fotedar was admitted to the hospital on June 20 and had been suffering from diabetes, hypertension and respiratory infection. He was being monitored by a team comprising of doctors from various departments.

Fotedar had been a close confidant of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and was ushered into politics by Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1950s.

In the last few years of his life, Fotedar had been isolated from the Congress and was not called in Working Committee meetings. Many attributed his isolation to the book ‘The Chinar Leaves: A political Memoir’, which was released in 2015 and questioned leadership credentials of current Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

In his book, Fotedar had said, “Sonia Gandhi is not Indira Gandhi,” and “Rahul Gandhi is not Sanjay Gandhi.” He had however praised Priyanka Gandhi and written that Indira wanted to see grandaughter Priyanka join politics.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has expressed grief over demise of Fotedar.

“In his long and active political career spanning over five decades, he tirelessly fought for the rights of people and served them with the utmost integrity,” she said.

Ms. Gandhi added that Fotedar was “one of the guiding lights for the Congress party and has left behind a void which can never be filled.”

A former member of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, Fotedar had represented Pahalgam constituency from 1967 to 1977. He had also been a two-time Rajya Sabha member and former union minister.