Ahmedabad: Urmilaben Patel, former Union Minister and wife of former Gujarat Chief Minister late Chimanbhai Patel, today passed away here following a brief illness, state Congress said in a statement here.

Urmilaben, 85, was suffering from age-related problems. Congress president Sonia Gandhi condoled her death. In her message, Gandhi praised Patel for being in the forefront to raise issues related to the rights of the women and the downtrodden, the statement said.

Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki and senior Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela lauded Urmilaben's contribution in various fields and said Congress had lost a dedicated woman leader.

Patel's son Siddharth Patel has served as a Gujarat Congress president. "She was the Minister of State for Power in the cabinet of former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao during 1991-95. She also served as principal of a college for many years and was associated with several educational institutes and NGOs," said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Jayrajsinh Parmar.

BJP national president Amit Shah as well as Gujarat BJP chief Vijay Rupani also paid tributes to her. Shah stated in his message that Patel efficiently played her role in the public life and gave invaluable contribution to the society. Rupani too expressed grief and stated that Patel set an example for others through her contribution in the educational and social fields.