Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Governor Acharya Devvrat on Thursday mourned the sad demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who breathed his last at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Thursday. He was 93.

In their condolence message, they said Vajpayee was a statesman and a visionary leader whose demise is a great loss to the nation.

“Vajpayee always considered Himachal Pradesh as his second home and has a house at Prini in Kullu district,” Thakur said, adding the people of Himachal would always miss the benevolence and special attachment of Vajpayee with the state and its people.

Terming ex-PM’s demise as a personal loss to the state, he said the idea to construct Rohtang tunnel connecting landlocked hinterland Lahaul valley with rest of the world was conceived in 1998 by Vajpayee.

The project was announced by him on 3 June and was nearing completion, would be the biggest gift of Vajpayee to the state, he said.

HP Assembly speaker Rajeev Bindal, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Satpal Singh Satti, MPs JP Nadda, Shanta Kumar, Anurag Thakur, Ramswaroop Sharma, Virender Kashyap and state organizational general secretary Pawan Rana too condoled his death.

“It was National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Himachal got special package for industrial development in 2003,” they said in joint statement, adding this resulted in industrial investment of thousands of crores of Rupees and employment opportunities to lakhs of youth of the state.

They said one of the largest educational programs in the world ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ was launched during his Prime Minister-ship. The program was a product of strong will power of this statesman.

“It was during the tenure of Vajpayee that the Golden Quadrilateral, the lifeline of trade in India came into being.