New Delhi: Three-time prime minister and a towering politician admired by colleagues across party lines, Atal Bihari Vajpayee died in Delhi on Thursday. He was 93.
Vajpayee’s health turned critical on Tuesday, and doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences subsequently put him on life support.
He was admitted in AIIMS on June 11 with infection in his kidneys and urinary tract and chest congestion.
Top leaders visited Vajpayee since Wednesday evening – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah rushed to see him twice within 24 hours. The former Prime Minister’s closest colleague L K Advani was also by his side.
Since Thursday morning, top BJP leaders as well as those from other parties visited the tenth Prime Minister of India. Those who could not come to Delhi kept him in their thoughts as they tweeted for his recovery throughout the day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out heartfelt tweets after the former prime minister passed. “I am speechless, I am in a vacuum, but my emotions overflow. Our beloved Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee is no more with us. He spent each moment of his life for the country. His passing is the end of an era.”
He further said: “It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atalji that 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.”
The government has also declared a seven-day national mourning throughout the country. The national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India where it is regularly flown. State funeral will also be accorded to the departed politician.
The mortal remains of the BJP veteran were brought to his official residence- 6A Krishna Menon Marg on Thursday evening and wrapped in tricolour.
The last rites of the former prime minister will take place at 4 pm on Friday at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal BJP chief Amit Shah said. He said people can pay homage to the departed leader at his residence from 7:30 am to 8:30 am on Friday.
The body would then be taken to the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg at around 9 am. The funeral procession would leave the BJP headquarters at 1 pm and the last rites would be performed at 4 pm, the BJP chief added.
Vajpayee was under the supervision of Dr Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist and currently the Director of AIIMS. Dr Guleria has served as personal physician to the former prime minister for over three decades.
A team of doctors from the nephrology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and cardiology departments looked after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was in the hospital for the last nine weeks.
Born on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee served as India's prime minister for first for a term of 13 days in 1996, and then from 1998 to 2004. He is the only non-Congress prime minister to complete the full term of five years, from 1999 to 2004.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha ten times and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called him the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics in 2008, urging him to rise above party politics and support the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Following health problems, Vajpayee had slowly withdrawn himself from public life and rarely moved out of his home.
Vajpayee, a diabetic, had suffered a stroke in 2009 that weakened his cognitive abilities.
Here is the full statement from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences announcing the death of former prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 05:05 pm on 16.08.2018
Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was 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.
We join the nation in deeply mourning this great loss.”...