Lakhs of people pay homage to nation’s tallest leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Prime News, National, New Delhi, August 17:- Lakhs of people lined up before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters here today and paid homage to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the poet-politician who wove together pragmatism and a vision for an inclusive India.

Vajpayee, 93, passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here last evening after a prolonged illness.

The young and old, men and women, some with children, jostled outside the gates of the BJP headquarters, anxious for a last glimpse of the late leader before the state funeral at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna this evening.

Inside, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, veteran BJP leader LK Advani and a host of ministers and party workers paid their last respects to the late leader, mourned by them and the Opposition as one of India’s tallest leaders.

The air was solemn as Vajpayee’s body, draped in the tricolour, was placed on a platform draped in white flowers. Hundreds of people filed past the body in silence, with a large portrait of a smiling Vajpayee — a BJP flag on either side — in the backdrop.

Opposition leaders like CPI’s D Raja and CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury were among those who visited the BJP headquarters to pay their respects.

Earlier in the morning, hundreds of people chanted “Atal Bihari Amar Rahe” as Vajpayee’s cortege made its way from his home through the city to reach the BJP office.

A decorated gun carriage carrying his mortal remains left his home on Krishna Menon Marg around 10 am and reached the party’s headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, about five kilometres away, around 11 am.

The funeral procession will leave the BJP headquarters at 1 pm and the last rites will be performed at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal at 4 pm.

In the morning, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, former President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Ministers HD Deve Gowda, Dr Manmohan Singh,  former AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat paid homage to the former prime minister.

President, leaders pay rich tributes to Vajpayee

Leaders from across the political spectrum paid rich tributes to Vajpayee. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union ministers and chief ministers recalled Vajpayee as a great statesman, orator and leader who believed in developing consensus on all major national issues.

President Kovind Tweeted saying, Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all.

PM Narendra Modi in a Tweet said: India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji. His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.

Vajpayee retired from active politics in 2005, a year after the BJP-led NDA lost the Lok Sabha elections.

Poet, journalist and politician

A poet, a journalist, a politician and then the prime minister of the country, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been a man of may virtues. He belonged to that rare league of politicians who find love and respect equally among their friends and rivals.

Born on 25th December 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee became president of Jansangh before becoming founding president of Bhartiya Janta Party. He became Prime Minister of the country thrice and gave the nation a strong and prosperous journey through his regime. He was the first non-Congress Prime Minister whose government could complete 5 years of tenure.

One of the most charismatic leaders in Indian politics, a leader who struck an instant chord not only with the masses but also with Opposition leaders, a born orator, whose free flowing speeches and extempore statements were admired by friends and opponents alike, a persona who was adored across party lines and above all, a fine human being who never lost his subtle sense of humor – Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Statesman politician

Vajpayee is lauded as a statesman politician whose acceptability across the board was instrumental in attracting many parties and outfits to the NDA umbrella, a move that broke barriers and catapulted BJP to power in Delhi. Considered a master politician, it was his gentle manners and finesse that made the difference as many regional leaders shed their inhibition and ultimately accept his leadership and join the alliance. It was no mean task because till then the BJP was virtually considered an untouchable party by the regional satraps.

He was soft-spoken, but was never shy of taking bold decisions, even if they were seemingly fraught with political hazards. His initiative to start the Lahore-Delhi bus service and go to Pakistan is certainly a case in point.

Once during a debate in Parliament, he was so critical of the government that then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru commented that he should become India’s Prime Minister one day. That day did arrive and how. In 1996, Atal Behari Vajpayee took oath to become the first BJP prime minister of the country.

The vagaries of alliance politics didn’t, however, stop him from undertaking a calculated decision of going ahead with the Pokhran Nuclear tests. Undeterred by the threat of sanctions or political alienation in the world fora, Vajpayee’s conviction stood him good as India registered its Nuclear prowess and also underlined its ability to withstand sanctions, economic or otherwise. The same belief was apparent when he chose to address United Nations General Assembly in Hindi.

He was Opposition leader for 40 long years, but that length of time didn’t leave any regrets or frustration. Rather it enriched him with friends and admirers spanning across the political spectrum. Even the most vocal BJP opponents deployed carefully drafted words bordering on silent admiration when they had to give opinion on him.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a life time spent in politics, a life dedicated to nation, a life journey characterised by caravan of admiration and friendship. (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)




Leave a Reply



Related Articles