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PM Modi, top political leaders hail Atal Bihari Vajpayee at prayer meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a prayer meeting held in the memory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) widely hailed as one of the greatest statesmen of independent India.

SNS | New Delhi |

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a prayer meeting held in the memory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) widely hailed as one of the greatest statesmen of independent India.

“Nobody can imagine that a person can be alive in people’s memories despite being away from public life. But the immense respect and tributes pouring on his demise show that Atalji still rules people’s hearts though he was completely away from the public life for 10 long years,” Modi said at a condolence meet in New Delhi.

“How long we live is not in our hands. But Atalji showed that it is in our hands how our lives should be, why it should be, for whom it should be and how it should be of use,” said Modi at the meeting which also had in attendance many prominent leaders from opposition parties.

“Atalji successfully divided the world into two clear halves – those who were with terrorism and those against it,” he said about the first BJP leader to have become the Prime Minister of India.

Remembering his long association with Vajpayee, former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said that during the over 65 years of friendship, Vajpayee and he would often stay together, watch movies together and would read books together.

“I had never imagined that someday I would have to address a gathering like this, a gathering where Atalji is not amongst us,” an emotional Advani said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee knew how to take everyone along.

“He would have achieved as much popularity in other political or social fields as he achieved after becoming PM,” he said.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad recalled how when Vajpayee was the leader of the opposition and he was a minister, they would have lunch and tea in each others’ office.

“Even after his death he has brought us together in one room, which is great,” observed Azad.

Mehbooba Mufti, the former J-K CM, called Vajpayee a “Messiah” and said that he was the “first Indian leader who trusted the people of J-K and whom the people trusted”.

Former J-K CM Farooq Abdullah praised Vajpayee as the emperor of people’s hearts.

“He was not a Prime Minister, he ruled over the hearts of the people of India. He was large-hearted. No one had a heart like him,” Abdullah was quoted as saying by ANI.

In a forceful voice, Abdullah said that the perfect tribute to Vajpayee would be an India before which the entire world bows.

“If you want to remember Atal, make a country where there is so much love that the whole world bows before it,” he said ending his tribute with cries of “Bharat Mata ki jai”.

“If you look for definition of certain words, you have to look in the dictionary. But there’s one word you don’t need to look in dictionary…if you look at his face you will get the meaning of the word ‘secular’,” said Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 2015, passed away at AIIMS in New Delhi on 16 August, a day after the 71st Independence Day celebrations.

His funeral cortege was followed by lakhs led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, who walked all the way from the BJP headquarters to Smriti Sthal where Vajpayee was cremated.

Top leaders from India’s political spectrum as well as dignitaries from SAARC nations, including Pakistan, were present at Vajpayee’s cremation.