Veteran BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the only non-Congress PM to complete a full term, passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here on Thursday. He was 93.

Vajpayee was admitted to AIIMS on 11 June for treatment of respiratory and other health problems. His condition later stabilised and remained so for the next nine weeks. However, it deteriorated in the last 36 hours forcing doctors attending to him to put him on life support system. He died at 05:05 p.m. Thursday, according to an AIIMS medical bulletin. He is survived by his foster daughter, Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.

 

AIIMS, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, dead
AIIMS press release confirming the death of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tribute to the departed leader. Earlier on Thursday, PM Modi and a host of other BJP as well as opposition leaders went to AIIMS as it became clear that the end was near. His body was taken to his Krishna Menon Marg residence from where it will be taken to the BJP headquarters on Friday for public viewing.

The government announced a seven-day State mourning to be observed throughout India till 22 August as a mark of respect to the former PM. A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) release said the National Flag will be flown at half-mast and there will be no official entertainment during the period of state mourning.

Vajpayee will be given a state funeral at Shakti Sthal in the Capital. All Central Government offices and CPSUs across the country, and Delhi Government offices in NCT of Delhi will observe half day holiday in the afternoon for the funeral.

President Kovind said Vajpayeeji, the true Indian statesman will be missed by one and all. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said Vajpayeeji was the tallest leader post independence, a Bharat Ratna.. I pay my tribute..may God rest his soul in peace…I used to make announcement about his arrival in the city. He always used to give his affection and guidance,” the Vice President said.

In his reaction to the demise of the former Prime Minister, PM Modi recalled Vajpayee’s contribution to the making of the BJP.

“It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick. He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread the BJP’s message, which led to the BJP becoming a strong force in our national polity and in several states,” Modi tweeted.


Dr MM Joshi, a close and long time associate of Vajpayee, said Vajpayee was not just a BJP leader, he was a national leader. ‘Whatever he did it was in national interest,” the senior BJP leader recalled.

Vajpayee, who joined the RSS in 1947 rose through the ranks. Seen as a moderate face of BJP, Vajpayee first became prime minister in 1996, leading a shaky coalition that lasted for 13 days and collapsed after losing a vote of no-confidence.

His second stint as prime minister was in 1998 when the National Democratic Alliance again came to power but that lasted for just 13 months. Finally, the NDA with Vajpayee as PM returned to power in 1999 and was voted out in 2004.

A 10-time MP of the Lok Sabha, Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics in 2005. He was also a member of the Rajya Sabha twice.