<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A quintessential Gandhi family loyalist, Makhan Lal Fotedar, a veteran Congress leader surprised many when his book ‘The Chinar Leaves: A political Memoir’ hit the stands in 2015 in which he questioned the leadership credentials of Rahul Gandhi.After Fotedar’s death, Sonia Gandhi on Friday hailed him as ‘one of the guiding lights’ for the Congress and said that his death has left behind a void, which can never be fulfilled.Expressing her deepest condolences, she recalled Fotedar in his long and active political career spanning over five decades fighting for the rights of the people.In his book, Fotedar had said, “Sonia Gandhi is not Indira Gandhi,” and “Rahul Gandhi is not Sanjay Gandhi,” but lauded Priyanka Gandhi.Fotedar, who breathed his last on Thursday in a Gurugram hospital, was a close confidante of former prime minister Indira Gandhi and a loyalist of the Congress first family. Fotedar, who owed his rise in the party to his proximity with Nehru-Gandhi, was brought into politics by Jawaharlal Nehru in early 1950s.As a former member of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, he represented Pahalgam constituency from 1967 to 1977. After serving as a Cabinet Minister in Jammu and Kashmir government, he shifted base to the national Capital.He became a key part of Indira Gandhi cabinet soon after. His clout was immense during her tenure and she appointed him as her political secretary in 1980. Fotedar was also a two-time Rajya Sabha member and a former union minister.After Indira Gandhi’s death, Rajiv Gandhi also made him his political secretary for three years before inducting him in his Cabinet as a minister. However, by then his clout had begun waning. But Fotedar was the darling of media reporting on AICC affairs.His long association with the Gandhi family and his understanding of Congress was so promising that years after he ceased to be in the corridors of power, media men thronged him.