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BJP veteran and former PM Vajpayee passes away

Vajpayee overshadowed India’s political scene for over four decades


New Delhi, Aug 16 (KNS): Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former prime minister and BJP stalwart, passed away on Thursday. He was 93. Vajpayee was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in June. Vajpayee, who had been ailing for long, retreated from active public life over the last decade following the deterioration of his health and remained restricted to his residence.
In a medical bulletin, AIIMS issued to KNS said: “It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 5.05 pm on 16.08.2018. 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. We join the Nation in deeply mourning this great loss.”
Top leaders who visited AIIMS earlier in the day to enquire about the health of Vajpayee include Vice President Venkaih Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top BJP veteran and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Health Minister J P Nada, BJP president Amit Shah, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, National Conference President and Member Parliament Dr Farooq Abdullah and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.
Born in 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee became the first BJP Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. He was first exposed to the political sphere during the Quit India movement in 1942. Within five years since then, he became a full-time RSS Pracharak and, due to his oratory skills, he soon became the face of the Jana Sangh (which is today known as the BJP).
Vajpayee was arrested between 1975 to 1977 during the Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 1977, Vajpayee became the external affairs minister in former PM Moraji Desai’s Cabinet. Even in those days, he was the party’s star speaker.
His first stint as Prime Minister lasted only for 16 days (from May 16-31, 1996) and then again from March 19, 1998 to May 13, 2004.
Vajpayee, whose parliamentary experience spanned over four decades, had been a Member of Parliament since 1957. He was elected to the Lok Sabha ten times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
In late 1998 and early 1999, ex-PM Vajpayee tried to mend differences with Pakistan by pushing for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with its neighbour. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999, Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan.
Vajpayee was also widely known and respected for his love for poetry and as an eloquent speaker. He was conferred Padma Vibhushan in 1992 in recognition of his services to the nation. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 2015. (KNS)