Statesman Vajpayee no more, cremation today

Statesman Vajpayee no more, cremation today

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first non-Congress leader to complete a full term in office and credited with cementing a place for the BJP in the country’s polity, passed away on Thursday after battling for life for the past few months.

The 93-year-old leader breathed his last at 5.05 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he was admitted since June 11. He will be cremated near Smriti Sthal, near Rajghat, at 4 pm on Friday.

He was “stable in the last nine weeks” but “unfortunately his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours” and was put on life support systems. “Despite the best of efforts,
we have lost him today,” the hospital said in a statement released around 5.30 pm on Thursday.

The body was brought to his official residence 6-A Krishna Menon Marg in the evening and will be kept there till Friday morning to allow people to pay homage. The mortal remains will be then taken to the BJP headquarters at 9 am.

Vajpayee, who is considered a moderate in the Sangh Parivar and an orator par excellence, has been ailing for the past few years. A diabetic with only one functional kidney, he was admitted at the AIIMS with a kidney tract infection, urinary tract infection, low urine output and chest congestion. He had suffered a stroke in 2009 and later developed dementia.

7-day mourning

The central government announced a seven-day mourning across the country till August 22. A state funeral will be accorded to the departed leader. The national flag will fly at half mast throughout India and Indian missions abroad till August 22.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the country in mourning the death of Vajpayee. Kovind said the “gentle giant” will be missed by one and all while Modi, who visited Vajpayee on Thursday and Friday, remembered him, “it was Atalji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century.”

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said Vajpayee was a great patriot and among modern India’s tallest leaders who spent his whole life serving the country. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said India has lost “a great son” who was loved and respected by millions. The BJP decided to postpone its National Executive meeting scheduled to be held on August 18-19 following Vajpayee’s death.

Known as a consensus builder, Vajpayee had led the country during a tumultuous political period. However, he managed to tread a cautious path and his skills as a politician helped him take the allies along with him.

It was around Vajpayee the NDA was built and his moderate face helped leaders like socialist George Fernandes and others to join hands with the BJP.



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