Vajpayee’s term as PM was defined by Pokhran, Kargil and a peace process with Pakistan.
New Delhi: Former prime minister and veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee died Thursday at the age of 93 after a prolonged illness.
Vajpayee was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on 11 June after he was diagnosed with a kidney tract infection. The hospital put out a statement, saying that the former prime minister breathed his last at 5:05 pm.
“Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors.
“Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today,” the statement read.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death, tweeting that Vajpayee’s demise marked the “end of an era”.
India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji.
His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 16, 2018
A five-decade career
Vajpayee, who first entered the Lok Sabha in 1957, announced his retirement from active politics in December 2005, a year after his BJP-led NDA government was voted out of power.
He withdrew from public life after suffering a stroke in 2009.
The BJP stalwart became prime minister for the first time in 1996 but had to resign within just 13 days since his government couldn’t muster up the numbers. Re-elected in 1998, his government survived for 13 months, losing a trust vote in Parliament.
The following year, however, the NDA returned to power with a comfortable majority and Vajpayee completed a full term as PM.
Known for his love for poetry, Vajpayee had an eventful stint as PM, defined by the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, the Kargil war and his bid for peace with Pakistan. A moderate in the BJP, he was sometimes referred to as the mukhota or mask that covered the BJP’s Hindu nationalist politics.
He was also talked of as the “right man in the wrong party”.
‘A true statesman’
President Ram Nath Kovind was among a bevy of leaders who paid tribute to the former prime minister. “Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all,” the Rashtrapati Bhawan’s official Twitter handle quoted the President as having said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the country had lost a great son.
Today India lost a great son. Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family & all his admirers. We will miss him. #AtalBihariVajpayee
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 16, 2018
BJP chief Amit Shah said that as the first party president, Vajpayee put his blood and sweat into nurturing it.
भाजपा के संस्थापक और प्रथम अध्यक्ष के नाते उन्होंने संगठन को अपने तप और अथक परिश्रम से सींच कर एक वटवृक्ष बनाया।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) August 16, 2018
He is survived by foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya.