India

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Dies at 93

@otuslive

FORMER Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died at the age of 93.

He was on life support for the past two days after his condition worsened and he passed away at 5.05 pm, a statement issued by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi said.

A stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party and perhaps its tallest leader, Vajpayee was admitted to AIIMS on June 11 with multiple complications including kidney infection and chest congestion.

Vajpayee was India’s longest serving non-Congress prime minister, a feat which laid the foundation for his Bharatiya Janata Party to get a majority on its own in 2014.

A lifelong bachelor, he is survived by his adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya.

Earlier, the BJP had postponed its events, including its National Executive meeting which was scheduled to be held on August 18-19, in view of former prime minister Vajpayee’s deteriorating condition. The meeting has now been cancelled.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had led his colleagues in the government and the party in visiting the hospital to check on his health. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and leaders of other political parties too had visited AIIMS to check on him.

Vajpayee had retired from politics in December of 2005 at the age of 81 owing to his failing health. He suffered a stroke in 2009 and gradually faded away from public life.

Vajpayee became Prime Minister in 1996 albeit for just 13 days, for eleven months in 1998-1999 and then from 1999 to 2004.

Perhaps the most moderate face in his Hindu nationalist BJP, he stood strongly for good relations with India’s neighbor Pakistan.

He had once famously said: “you can change your friends but not your neighbor”.

His visit to Lahore in February of 1999 was almost immediately followed by the Kargil war, which India won under his leadership by standing firm and not crossing the border in spite of the grave provocation.

It was under Vajpayee’s leadership that India announced its arrival in the most exclusive and elite nuclear club with the Pokhran tests in May of 1998.

A bold move which saw many praising Vajpayee for strengthening India’s security and instilling national pride.

The biggest test for Vajpayee was during the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 which saw questions being asked of his government and his party to act decisively.

The riots had bothered him and he had famously advised Chief Minister Narendra Modi to follow the “Raj Dharma”.

Statesman, politician, poet and a master orator, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has many firsts to his credit: The first prime minister from the BJP, India’s first bachelor prime minister and the first president of his party.

His speeches in Parliament were heard in rapt attention, with lawmakers and journalists often trying to decode his masterful oratory, and his legendary pauses between the sentences, for their hidden meaning.

Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957 and has been a member for 10 terms. He won his last election in 2004 from Lucknow.

He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 2015.

#AtalBihariVajpayee: WHAT THEY SAID

President Ram Nath Kovind

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Former President Pranab Mukherjee

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

Congress President Rahul Gandhi

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

National Conference Leader Omar Abdullah

Industrialist Ratan Tata

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