Heavy rain did not deter a large number of people from gathering for a last viewing of the ‘Asthi Kalash’ (urn of ashes) of former prime minister, the late Atal Behari Vajpayee, at his birth place here.

A prayer meeting and the ‘Asthi Kalash Yatra’ were held here on Tuesday. People of various sections of society as well as politicians, cutting across party lines, paid tribute to Vajpayee.

Addressing the gathering comprising religious leaders, members of social, cultural and political bodies, bureaucrats, litterateurs, academicians and journalists, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the passing away of Vajpayee has left not only Gwalior but the whole country desolate.

“Atal Ji was a remarkable leader and he was beyond the boundaries of political parties. I enjoyed his company more because he entrusted me with the affairs of Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency. In 1991, he contested from Vidisha and Lucknow and won from both seats. He then quit the Vidisha seat,” Chouhan said. “By launching the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Atal ji changed the picture of villages and with the Pokhran-2 nuclear tests, he showed the world the power of India,” Chouhan said.

The Asthi Kalash (urn) was brought here by Vajpayee’s adopted daughter, Namita Bhattacharya, son-in-law, Ranjan Bhattacharya, granddaughter Niharika and nephew and MP from Morena, Anup Mishra, by a special plane from New Delhi.

Union minister and MP from Gwalior constituency, Narendra Singh Tomar, said, “Atal ji’s life was dedicated to the nation. The people were attracted by his speeches and they were ready to work with him.”

“Atal ji was a celebrity and cannot be forgotten. He was a universally loved politician and above party politics. His contribution to development of the country and BJP would be remembered,” said MP higher education minister Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya.

RSS leader Krishna Gopal, BJP’s state chief Rakesh Singh, BJP’s vice-president Prabhat Jha, MP ministers Maya Singh, Rustam Singh, Narayan Singh, Gwalior mayor Vivek Shejwalkar, Congress district chief Devendra Sharma and former minister Bhagwan Singh Yadav also addressed the prayer meeting at Phoolbagh ground.

The Asthi Kalash Yatra went through the main routes of the city in a specially desigined chariot and later the urn was kept at Vajpayee’s ancestral home at Kamal Singh ka Bagh area for a last viewing by the common people.

The entire city was decorated with the flowers and people had put of photographs and poems of Vajpayee at street corners.