Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies at 93

Larry Hoffman
August 18, 2018

Earlier Friday, supporters chanting "Long Live Vajpayee!" escorted his body from his home to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where admirers came to pay their last respects. "He was the first to offer us civilian planes, Airbuses at the time we were starting out".

Seen as a moderate face of BJP, Vajpayee first became prime minister in 1996, leading a shaky coalition whose members were suspicious of the BJP's right-wing politics.

Vajpayee, who passed away at AIIMS on Thursday evening, had a pan-India appeal and his flair for foreign policy and initiatives were acknowledged globally. "Those who remember his state visit to the United Kingdom in 2001 will know how well respected he was here", said a Twitter post by Mark Fields, British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific.

"Sub-continent has lost a phenomenal and a visionary political figure today", the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman said in a statement.

Yuval Rotem, Ambassador, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, in his message said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of a giant - India's former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee". "Vajpayee, as foreign minister, took responsibility of improving India-Pakistan ties", Khan was quoted as saying. He further said that by creating peace between the two countries, "we can truly recognize the service of Vajpayee".

"The government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of India", it added. India and Israel also set up a joint anti-terror commission after a visit by foreign minister Jaswant Singh in the same year.

LK Advani, one of Mr Vajpayee's closest colleagues and his deputy in the NDA government from 1998 to 2004, was among the visitors. The president lauded Vajpayee for his "leadership, foresight, and maturity". This was a silent gesture of PM Modi to show how much he loved and respected BJP stalwart AB Vajpayee. He was one of the most inspiring world leaders of our times.

The government said that separate events marking the immersion of ashes will be organised in each of these district so that people from all these areas get an opportunity "to be part of Atal's last journey".

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