Vajpayee’s funeral to take place at Smriti Sthal on Friday


New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away here on Thursday, will be laid to rest at Smriti Sthal on Friday at 4 p.m.

“His mortal remains will be kept at his residence at Krishna Menon Marg till 8 a.m for paying tributes. Around 9 a.m., his mortal remains will be brought to BJP headquarters at 6-A Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. His funeral procession will begin at 1 p.m and the last rites will be performed at 4 p.m at Smriti Sthal,” BJP President Amit Shah said.

The mortal remains of Vajpayee have already been brought to the Krishna Menon Marg-located residence.

Vajpayee, whose politics of moderation in a hardline party propelled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power for the first time in the 1990s, died on Thursday after long illness.

The 93-year-old leader, who had faded from public life for more than a decade following health complications and was admitted to AIIMS with urinary tract infection on June 11, breathed his last at 5.05 p.m.

He became the Prime Minister first in May 1996 for 13 days and again in March 1998 till 2004. With his swearing-in as Prime Minister after the Lok Sabha polls of October 1999, Vajpayee became the first and only person after Jawaharlal Nehru to occupy the Office of the Prime Minister of India for three successive Lok Sabhas.

He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 2015.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavi

Maharashtra leaders grieve for Vajpayee

Mumbai, Aug 16 Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other state leaders on Thursday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with Fadnavis saying that the late leader would a role model for coming generations.

“It’s impossible to believe that Atal ji is no more. An irreparable loss. Atal ji will continue to inspire us by his thoughts, principles and teachings. Not just in the past but he will also be a role model for generations to come,” the Chief Minister said.

“Vajpayee was one of the best Prime Ministers India had; an ocean of knowledge, an excellent orator, a great humanitarian and everyone’s idol, determined to make our nation strong.”

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar described Vajpayee’s demise as “a personal loss, having spent numerous year in our parliamentary life together.”

He remembered him as a “great soul, an eloquent poet, orator par excellence, an excellent human being, and one of the greatest parliamentarians of India.”

Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said that the country has “lost a leader who was a paragon of high moral values in public life.”

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said that the “liberalisation of the economy started in 1991, (but) was speeded up under Vajpayee’s rule.”

He recalled how his (late) father Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, a Cabinet Minister in the NDA-I government, had requested Vajpayee to issue a commemorative coin on Saint Tukaram Maharaj, which the then Prime Minister readily agreed to, and it was released later.

Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) shared memories of working under Vajpayee when he (Munde) was with the BJP, planning his engagements in Marathwada region.

“He was a multi-dimensional personally, thinker, poet and a sensitive human. His speeches continue to inspire us and he made a major contribution to the national politics,” Munde said.

Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said that Vajpayee is “the only leader who had won the confidence of his opponents, who created the ideals for taking the country forward democratically, along with the ruling and opposition parties.”

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, former Union Ministers Sushilkumar Shinde, Praful Patel, Prithviraj Chavan, and NCP MP Supriya Sule also paid rich tributes to Vajpayee, who passed away in Delhi earlier in the day at the age of 93.

J&K Governor, state leaders condole Vajpayee’s demise

Srinagar, Aug 16 Mainstream leaders in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday condoled the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee death in Delhi.

Governor N.N. Vohra said: “Saddened over the demise of a visionary leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji. Pray for the peace of the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family members.”

Vajpayee passed away earlier in the day in All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. He was 93.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Vajpayee sahib is no more and I feel a personal sense of loss. Thank you sir for the opportunities, for the trust you reposed in me, for the opportunities to travel with you and to learn from you. You will be greatly missed.”

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “His conviction, commitment and courage was phenomenal. He extended the hand of friend to Pakistan. He had to face the betrayal in the shape of Kargil incursions by Pakistan but even then he tried to rise above everything else to sort out the problems faced by us in Jammu and Kashmir.”

State Congress President G.A. Mir said: “Politics apart, his approach to problems was that of a statesman. His policy regarding J&K was not put to practice by those who claim to represent his dream. He was a great parliamentarian.”

Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta said: “He entered J&K with Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1953. He was a statesman, thinker, poet and writer who will always be missed.”

Former Minister and Peoples Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar said” “To resolve the Kashmir issue through a humanitarian approach, Atal ji firmly believed that dialogue and deliberation is the only way out of the situation in Kashmir.”

CPI-M MLA Yusuf Tarigami said: “During his prime ministership, there was a ray of hope for the otherwise helpless situation here. His approach opened roads and minds in Kashmir.”

Former Lok Sabha member and Congress leader Tariq Hameed Kara said: “For the people of Kashmir, Atal ji’s passing away is a personal loss.”

TN government mourns, Declares holiday on Friday

Chennai, Aug 16 Tamil Nadu government on Thursday issued an order declaring Friday as a holiday for educational institutions, state government offices and undertakings owned by the government as a mark of respect to late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister.

The Tamil Nadu government also ordered the state mourning for seven days from August 16 to Auugust 22.

During the period of mourning, the national flag will be flown half mast and there will be no official entertainment.

Sonia pays homage to Vajpayee

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday paid homage to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose body was lying in state at his residence after it was brought from the hopsital.

Officers from three forces draped the body in the Tricolour before enabling people to pay their last respects at his residence in central Delhi’s Krishna Menon Marg.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi paid a visit to Vajpayee at AIIMS in the afternoon on Thursday.

Vajpayee, a founder member of the BJP and the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in office, died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 93.

Opposition leaders remember Vajpayee as statesman, great son of India

New Delhi, Aug 16 Opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and chief ministers of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi on Thursday condoled the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, describing him a great son of India, a statesman and one of country’s tallest leaders.

Gandhi said in a tweet that Vajpayee was loved and respected by millions of people and he will be missed.

“Today, India lost a great son. Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family and all his admirers. We will miss him,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi had earlier in the day visited Vajpayee at AIIMS where he was being treated.

Manmohan Singh, in his message, said that Vajpayee stood among the “tallest leaders” of modern India and spent his whole life serving the country.

“I have learnt with profound sorrow about the sad demise of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji. An excellent orator, an impressive poet, an exceptional public servant, an outstanding parliamentarian and a great Prime Minister, Vajpayeeji stood among the tallest leaders of modern India, who spent his whole life serving our great country,” Singh said.

“His services to our nation will be remembered for a long time to come,” he added.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Vajpayee’s death was a very big loss to the nation.

“Very very saddened that the great statesman and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji is no more with us. His passing away is a very big loss to our nation. I will always cherish many fond memories with him. Condolences to his family and his many admirers,” Banerjee said in a tweet.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he was deeply grieved by the demise of Vajpayee and noted that he was loved by people of Odisha.

“He was one of the tallest leaders of the country. He was much loved by the people of India and more so by the people of Odisha. May his soul rest in peace,” Patnaik said in a tweet. He attached a video of his pictures with Vajpayee.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu said India has lost one of its greatest visionaries.

“We have lost one of the greatest visionaries the nation has seen, on this unfortunate day. The beloved former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji will continue to inspire us and the generations to come. May he rest in peace,” Naidu said in a tweet.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Vajpayee’s death was a great loss for the country.

“Am deeply saddened. A great loss for India,” he said in a tweet.

Kejriwal had visited AIIMS along with his deputy Manish Sisodia to enquire about the health of Vajpayee.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad described Vajpayee as a great human being and “true statesman”.

Azad said that Vajpayee never hesitated in giving full credit to his opposition party leaders whenever due. “I distinctly remember when he praised then Prime Minister Late Indira Gandhi after Indo-Pak war of 1971 and referred to her as ‘Durga’,” Azad said.

The Congress leader said he had very happy memories of Vajpayee and his death was a big personal loss.

“He will be greatly remembered for his prolific oratory skills, statesmanship, his relationship with leaders of other parties and outstanding contribution towards public service besides many other qualities,” Azad said.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge said India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had predicted that Vajpayee would become the Prime Minister in the future and he rose to the post.

Kharge said that Vajpayee was “Ajatshatru” who never made any enemies. “Though our ideologies were different, we used to go to listen to his speeches to know what he had to say.”

Congress treasurer Motilal Vora said Vajpayee commanded equal respect from his party and the opposition.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Indian political landscape has lost a stalwart and a statesman.

Vajpayee, a founder member of the BJP and the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in office, died in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 93.

Amit Shah

Vajpayee guided BJP from ‘seeding’ to shaping it a ‘banyan tree’: Amit Shah

New Delhi, Aug 16  Describing him as “Pole Star” of Indian politics, BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday paid his tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he guided the party’s journey from its seeding to taking a shape of “banyan tree”.

“With his demise, we have lost the pole star of Indian politics. He was a multi-faceted personality. The country has lost a big statesman. It will be impossible for long to fulfil the space which has fallen vacant after his demise.

“First, Jan Sangha and then founding the BJP, throughout his journey from seeding the party to giving it a shape of banyan tree, he guided all the workers,” Shah told reporters at party headquarters.

“Be it during fight against the Emergency or raising India’s voice for Kashmir or for spreading Hindi’s influence or as a balanced leader, he always gave solutions to the country. We, as a BJP workers, will take forward the mission he had taken up,” Shah said.

Shah also described Vajpayee as “shikhar purush” (topmost leader) of Indian politics who devoted every “second of his life to the country and the party”.

In a blogpost, Shah said Vajpayee was an ideal swayamsevak, a dedicated worker and an effective speaker.

“It is not easy to give every second of your life to the country, the party and its ideology. We have seen Atalji as an ideal swayamsevak, dedicated worker, poet, strong orator and a unique political leader.”

Shah said Vajpayee was BJP’s founding member, its first president and made the party grow into a banyan tree through his hard work and dedication.

“He emerged as a popular leader who treated power as an instrument of service to people and led a spotless political life without any compromise with national interests. And this is the reason that people gave him love and respect beyond their political and social limitations.

“As the supreme leader of the party born in opposition, he played an exemplary role in Parliament and outside and provided a decisive leadership to the country as prime minister,” Shah said.

The BJP President said Vajpayee left an indelible mark on the Indian polity with his thoughts and principles.

“As a swayamsevak dedicated to ideology and as a disciplined worker, his life is an inspiration for us. As a unique politician, an effective speaker, poet, devoted patriot, Bharat Ratna, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death is an irreparable loss to the party and the country.

His thoughts, his poems, his vision, his political sagacity will always inspire us and provide us guidance. I bow before such shikhar purush of Indian politics and pray for peace to his soul,” Shah said.

Vajpayee, a founder-member of the BJP and the first non-Congress prime minister to complete a full term in office, died in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 93.

President Ram Nath Kovind. President, VP pay homage to Vajpayee

New Delhi, Aug 16 President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice Presidednt M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led a host of leaders in paying homage to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose body was lying in state at his residence after it was brought from the hopsital.

Officers from three forces draped the body in the Tricolour before enabling leaders and people to pay their last respects at his residence in central Delhi’s Krishna Menon Marg.

Kovind, who was accompanied by his wife Savita, placed a wreath near Vajpayee’s body.

Modi, who had arrived earlier and paid his homage, waited for the President and the Vice President, before leaving Vajpayee’s residence in central Delhi’s Krishna Menon Marg.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accompanied by his wife also placed a wreath and paid homage to Vajpayee.

All of them consoled the foster daughter Namita, foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya, foster grand daughter Niharika, Vajpayee’s relatives and his long-time associate Shiv Kumar.

BJP President Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vashundhra Raje, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghuwar Das and Finance Commission Chairman N.K. Singh were among those who paid homage to the leader at his residence.

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Yoga guru Swami Ramdev also paid homage.

Yashwant Sinha, who held the finance and external affairs minister portfolio in Vajpayee’s cabinet, alsp paid his homage to the departed leader.

Vajpayee, a founder-member of the BJP and the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in office, died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 93.

Arunachal Pradesh Governor B.d. Mishra

Vajpayee was apostle of secularism: Arunachal Governor

Itanagar, Aug 16  Arunachal Pradesh Governor B.D. Mishra on Thursday expressed grief at the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying that India had lost its tallest leader and statesman who was an apostle of secularism.

“Atal ji was an apostle of unity, harmony and secularism. One of the best orators of all time, he was a great visionary and the most respected leader of India. Cutting across political party lines, he commanded admiration of all,” the Governor said.

Mishra said that as the Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee laid the foundation of nuclear self-reliance for national defence by going for nuclear tests at Pokhran in Rajasthan.

“A firm believer in integral humanism, Atal ji took the initiative of extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan through his most admired and unprecedented bus journey to Lahore (in 1999).”

Conveying heartfelt condolences on his behalf and that of the Arunachal people, the Governor said he prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.

Sumitra Mahajan

Brightest star of Indian politics: Sumitra Mahajan on Vajpayee

New Delhi, Aug 16  Expressing grief over former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan termed the late BJP leader as the “brightest star” of Indian politics.

“The brightest star of Indian politics set today… the unique jewel which was adorning the crown of mother India, lost in the deep recesses of darkness and left a void behind,” Mahajan said in a statement.

She called Vajpayee “one of the greatest sons of India” whose attractive charm was never lost on the masses.

She remembered him as an “experimental” and yet also a “practical” man, whose thoughts, addresses and poetry issued forth straight from the heart.

“As a politician, his identity came to rest on his principles, courageous decision-making, farsightedness, politeness, and sense of humour. He would make his point clear with wit and clarity. When he would put his point forward in the style of a philosopher, his philosophy, thoughts, and astonishing talent would come to be visible to all,” she said.

Vajpayee, whose politics of moderation in a hardline party propelled the BJP to power for the first time in the 1990s, died on Thursday here following a prolonged illness at the age of 93.

Sonia Gandhi B

Vajpayee was a towering figure in national life: Sonia

New Delhi, Aug 16 UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a towering figure in national life and a man with a very large heart.

In a message, Gandhi said she was deeply saddened by the passing away of Vajpayee.

“Shri Vajpayee was a towering figure in our national life. Throughout his life, he stood for democratic values and demonstrated this commitment in all his acts, whether as a parliamentarian, a cabinet minister, or Prime Minister of India” Gandhi said.

She said Vajpayee was a spellbinding orator, a leader of great vision, a patriot to the core for whom the national interest was paramount.

“But above all, he was a man with a very large heart and a real spirit of magnanimity. One saw that in all his interactions — with other political parties and their leaders, with foreign governments, with coalition partners, and indeed with his own political colleagues, whom he always treated with respect and courtesy,” she said.

Gandhi said Vajpayee’s warm personality and his gift of friendship won him admirers and friends across the political spectrum and from every walk of life.

“His death leaves behind a huge void. I join millions of our fellow Indians in mourning his loss and pray for the departed soul,” she said.