Remembering him as "an intellectual, historian and thinker", Gandhi said the void created by his passing away would be hard to fulfil, for he espoused a brand of mature, balanced and unwavering journalism that's gradually hard to find.
Gandhi also expressed her solidarity with family and friends of Padgaonkar.
Seventy-two-year-old Padgaonkar, a former editor of The Times of India, was unwell for the past several weeks and died at a hospital in Pune today, family sources said.
He had also served as one of the three members of the interlocutors' group on Jammu and Kashmir, set up by the previous government after continuous unrest in the Valley in 2008.
Meanwhile, Congress' Punjab unit president Amarinder Singh hailed Padgaonkar as "a shining beacon on India's journalistic landscape".
"With his demise, a bright light has gone out of India's journalistic scene," Singh said in Chandigarh.
Describing Padgaonkar as an intellectual who took Indian journalism to new levels of distinctiveness, he said the vacuum left by his death would be difficult to fill.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also condoled the demise of Padgaonkar and described him as "one of the finest journalists who wrote with courage and empathy".
"One of the finest journalists of our times, Dileep Padgaonkar set a high bar. He wrote with courage and great empathy. His voice will be missed," he said.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is also the political advisor to the Congress president, said, "Padgaonkar will be remembered for his contribution to journalism and his efforts to help bring peace in Kashmir.
Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram condoled the death of Padgaonkar.
"Shocked and deeply grieved to learn Dileep Padgaonkar passed away. Fiercely independent, Padgaonkar brought a liberal world view to Indian journalism," he said.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Our tributes to Dileep Padgaonkar -- noted journalist, dyed-in-wool liberal and passionate fighter against communalism. You will be always missed.