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Vajpayee to be cremated at Delhi’s Smriti Sthal Friday afternoon, PMO takes over arrangements

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Authorities have been asked to make preparations for a procession of up to 20 lakh people, given the former PM’s popularity.

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be cremated Friday afternoon at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in the capital. A high-powered committee of the Prime Minister’s Office took the decision about two hours after the BJP stalwart passed away at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The funeral is set for 1:30 pm.

The PMO itself has taken charge of arranging the funeral. Vajpayee’s memorial is set to be constructed near Vijay Ghat, where former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s memorial stands.

‘Be ready to handle 2 million people’

Authorities have been asked to be ready to handle crowd of 15 to 20 lakh people for Vajpayee’s funeral procession. Considering his popularity across party lines and among the people, agencies have been asked to be on high alert and ensure that proper road diversion and necessary arrangements around the cremation site in Delhi.

Also read: A lesson from the Vajpayee school of large-hearted leadership

At his residence too, the government machinery is working overtime to ensure no laxity in the security of VVIPs who come to pay their last respects.

Body to be taken to BJP HQ

The norm is that every departed leader’s body is taken to the party headquarters, so that workers and leaders can pay their last respects. A senior BJP leader told ThePrint that they expect the body to be brought to the BJP headquarters at around 9 am, from where it would be taken for cremation.

Leaders rush to residence

The party headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg wore a deserted look Thursday as leaders of every rank and file rushed to Vajpayee’s residence at Krishna Menon Marg or the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was declared dead at 5:05 pm.

Those who had visited him in hospital in the morning, including union ministers, began arriving at his residence late in the afternoon, to prepare for the arrival of his body. They were led by Rajya Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav and union minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh.

Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Giriraj Singh too arrived to oversee the arrangements for the media enclosure, while BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Anurag Thakur, Saroj Pandey, spokespersons B.S. Shastri, Anil Baluni and Sanjay Mayukh too were present at the residence. BJP chief ministers who have had long associations with Vajpayee are flying in from their respective states.

Also read: The life and times of Atal Bihari Vajpayee


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