Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several BJP leaders greeted former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who turned 88 on Tuesday.
While the Prime Minister called on his predecessor, President Pranab Mukherjee sent a bouquet of flowers to the ailing leader. BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh also called on the former PM.
The BJP’s Delhi unit organised a blood donation camp and a rally, which was addressed by party president Gadkari and senior leader Venkaiah Naidu. In the evening, Rajnath Singh released a book of Vajpayee’s poems translated into Maithili language.
“Vajpayee is a role model for the whole country for good governance. He is also known as the guru of coalition politics. He led the nation on the path of progress,” BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar said after greeting Vajpayee. Party units across states celebrated his birthday as ‘good governance day’.
Born in 1924, Vajpayee started his political career with Jan Sangh in the 50s. He was jailed during the Emergency and later served as the minister for external affairs during the Janata Party government. He was the founding president of BJP in 1980 and led the party to power for the first time in 1996 when his government lasted for 13 days.
He led the party to victory in 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections and served as the PM. It was during his tenure that the Pokhran nuclear tests were conducted.
Vajpayee did not contest the 2009 elections due to poor health.