New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said he was "extremely sad" as the country lost "a visionary leader" in the death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
In a condolence message to Vidyasagar Rao, the Tamil Nadu Governor, Mukherjee said the country "has lost an icon who was loved and admired by millions".
He said Jayalalithaa was "a visionary leader and administrator who distinguished herself through her political acumen and people friendly programmes.
"She was regarded one of India's most charismatic and popular leaders."
The President recalled that he used "to interact closely with her when we were together in the Rajya Sabha and during her different tenures as Chief Minister" of the southern state.
"She was progressive in her thought and pro-active in pursuing the issues that were close to her heart, such as the empowerment of women and welfare of children," he said about the actor-turned-politician who had appeared in films of different genres and performed a wide variety of roles.
"She served the country with distinction in different capacities, including as Member of Parliament, Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, first Woman Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and as five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu."
Mukherjee said as Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa introduced a number of pro-poor schemes in various fields, including education, food security, provision of safe drinking water, the girl child.
"Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people. Her contribution to the progress and development of Tamil Nadu will be long remembered."