‘Gentle Giant’ Atal Bihari Vajpayee no more

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New Delhi | August 16, 2018 7:52 PM

The world on Thursday lost a 'Gentle Giant' with the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi after prolonged illness. He was 93.

From President Ram Nath Kovind to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the politicos expressed grief over Vajpayee’s demise. (IE)

The world on Thursday lost a ‘Gentle Giant’ with the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi after prolonged illness. He was 93.

From President Ram Nath Kovind to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the politicos expressed grief over Vajpayee’s demise.

President Kovind wrote on Twitter, “Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all #PresidentKovind.”

Prime Minister Modi described the passing away of his party’s veteran as the “end of an era”.

“India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji. His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi.
In a thread of emotional statements on the micro-blogging site, he further wrote, “It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India.”

Describing Vajpayee’s death as “a personal loss”, the Prime Minister further said, “Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me. I have countless fond memories with him. He was an inspiration to Karyakartas like me. I will particularly remember his sharp intellect and outstanding wit.”

Prime Minister Modi was an ardent admirer of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Describing the former Prime Minister’s contribution to the formation of BJP, he added, “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.”

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu described Vajpayee as “a true Indian” and said, “Never expected end will come so soon. He was a true Indian. He never hesitated to speak from his heart. He was the tallest leader in India post independence. Vajpayee ji is ‘ajatshatru’ of modern times because he always maintained dignity and decorum.”

The 93-year-old Vajpayee breathed his last at 5:05 pm here on Thursday.

Announcing the demise, All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in a press release wrote, “Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “This is a very sad moment for us. Shortly his mortal remains will be taken to his residence where people can pay tribute to him.”

Expressing his grief, Rajnath tweeted, “Pained beyond words at the demise of Shri Atalji. He had cherished the ideal of a developed and powerful India in which all persons lived together in unity, peace and harmony.”

“Atalji was a true ‘Ajatshatru’ who had many friends across the political spectrum. He believed in political consensus and his beliefs had consequential effect on Indian politics,” he further wrote.

“In Atalji’s demise the nation has lost a stalwart who was known for statesmanship and astute leadership. It is also a huge personal loss to me,” the Home Minister tweeted, adding, “I am one of those millions of Indians who drew inspiration from Atalji’s life and contribution. I cannot fully imagine my own life without following the footprints that Atalji set. May his soul rest in peace.”

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who was MoS for External Affairs in the Vajpayee government, tweeted, “Vajpayee Sahib is no more & I feel a personal sense of loss at his passing. Thank you sir for the opportunities, for the trust you reposed in me, for the opportunities to travel with you & to learn from you. You will be greatly missed #AtalBihariVajpayee”

“Words mean so little at a time like this but words are all we have to convey the deepest condolences to Gunu, to Neha, to Ranjan & the entire family. May God give you strength to bear this tremendous loss. #AtalBihariVajpayee,” he added.

Further details of his last rites are yet to be known.

Fondly known as Atalji, means unyielding, Vajpayee was even unbending to death. He had been undergoing treatment for Urinary Tract Infection, low urine output and chest congestion at AIIMS since June 11.

After being politically active for more than half a century, when he stepped down as the Prime Minister in 2004, Vajpayee kept a feeble health. Even when he was given India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna in 2015, it was taken to his house as the charismatic leader was bed-ridden.

Earlier, the AIIMS, in a press note released on late Wednesday, announced that Vajpayee’s health had worsened and that he was on a life-support system.

Shortly after attending the President’s ‘At Home’ Reception function on the occasion of Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to the hospital to enquire about Vajpayee’s health.

Several leaders like his party chief Amit Shah, Union Ministers Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Jitendra Singh, Harsh Vardhan, Suresh Prabhu, Smriti Irani, since then made a beeline to the hospital.

Vajpayee, who led the National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004, was the first-ever member of the Bharatiya Janata Party to become India’s Prime Minister.

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