Uttarakhand minister Prakash Pant passed away in the U.S. on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. The 58-year-old had been in the U.S. for some time for treatment. Mr. Pant was Uttarakhand’s minister for parliamentary affairs and finance besides being in charge of a host of other portfolios. He was a BJP MLA from Pithoragarh in the state assembly and was considered one of the most important and knowledgable members of Rawat’s cabinet. He was one of the probables for the post of chief minister when the BJP swept to power in the State in 2017. Condolences poured in as the news of Mr. Pant’s death spread. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to express his condolences.“Anguished by the passing away of Uttarakhand Finance Minister Shri Prakash Pant. His organisational skills helped strengthen the BJP and administrative skills contributed to Uttarakhand’s progress. My thoughts are with his family and supporters,” he said in a tweet. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat expressed deep grief at Mr. Pant’s demise, describing it as a personal loss. “For me it is like losing a younger brother. The void created by his passing away will always hurt. His ability to respond to the sharpest of attacks by the opposition in the state assembly with a disarming smile will remain lodged in our memory forever.“He played a great role in giving a direction to the development of the state after its creation. It is a great loss for the state and the BJP,” Mr. Rawat said. He prayed for peace to the departed soul and fortitude to his family to bear the immense loss. A three-day state mourning has been declared, an official from the Chief Minister’s Office said.