R K Dhawan, a close confidant of Indira Gandhi and known to be part of her inner circle during the Emergency years, died in New Delhi on Monday at a local hospital at the age of 81.

The veteran leader of the Congress breathed his last at the B L Kapur hospital around 7 pm. He tied the knot at the age of 74 with Achla in 2012. He is survived by his wife.

Family sources said Rajinder Kumar Dhawan, a former Union minister, was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday for age-related ailments.

According to reports, the immediate cause of his death has been ascertained as septicaemia and acute kidney injury.

Various media cited sources as saying that Dhawan was suffering from cancer. He was admitted on July 31 with complaints of drowsiness, decreased urine output, decreased oral intake, loose stools and weakness.

He was initially admitted to a ward, but as his condition deteriorated he was shifted to the ICU on August 2.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and said Dhawan’s demise has left a deep void in the Congress family.

“The passing away of Shri #RKDhawan ji, who I have known since childhood, leaves a deep void in the Congress family of which he was an important, senior member – loved, respected and admired by all. My condolences go out to his friends and his family in their time of grief,” Gandhi tweeted.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala expressed grief and paid homage to the senior Congress leader.

“Our homage to veteran Congress leader, Sh. R.K.Dhawan, who breathed his last today. His tireless spirit, immeasurable commitment & untiring dedication to the Congress ideals will always be remembered. RIP,” he tweeted.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee also expressed grief at Dhawan’s demise.

“Deeply shocked at passing away of Shri RK Dhawan. Though he was ailing I had never expected that the end will come so soon. A close associate and colleague in Party and Government, he will forever be fondly remembered,” Mukherjee tweeted.

From the year 1962 to 1984, serving as Indira Gandhi’s personal secretary, Dhawan reportedly wielded immense clout, with some claiming that he controlled information and access to the then prime minister.

During the Emergency years (1975-77), Dhawan was among Indira Gandhi’s inner circle of leaders.

After Rajiv Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress party and the government following his mother’s assassination, there was talk of Dhawan being sidelined.

However, later Dhawan returned to party affairs and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1990. He had also been a member of the Congress Working Committee. He was appointed Minister of State (independent charge) Housing and Urban Development (1995-1996).

Dhawan also served as a member on various parliamentary committees.