India’s three-time prime minister Vajpayee dies at 93

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee continues to be critical and on life support a bulletin released by AIIMS on Thursday said

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee continues to be critical and on life support a bulletin released by AIIMS on Thursday said

His waning health sparked a flurry of visits from top dignitaries today, including Modi and senior cabinet ministers.

Party sources said the memorial to Vajpayee, likely to be named Atal Smriti, would be set up on the riverbank beside Vijay Ghat, the memorial to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Once Ram Vilas Paswan took a jibe at a rising BJP by saying he too was "Ram"; Mr. Vajpayee said: "Aap Ram to hain, par vilasi Ram hain" (You are Ram, but a Ram given to pleasure). Our respected Atal ji is no more.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee speaks during a news conference in the eastern Indian university town of Shantiniketan, northwest of Calcutta April 2, 2004.

"Atal Ji's passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the AIIMS this evening to inquire about the condition of Vajpayee.

Hearing him speak, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is believed to have told a visiting foreign dignitary of the young MP's vast promise, saying that he could be Prime Minister one day.

Modi said Vajpayee's stewardship had put India on a fast track to growth. Vajpayee's body was moved late Thursday from a hospital to his Delhi home, where mourners gathered. My condolences to his family & all his admirers.

The former Prime Minister was admitted in the hospital after complaining of chest congestion, his urine output was on the lower side in June and also kidney tract infection. The 93-year old BJP leader breathed his last at Delhi's AIIMS today at 05:05 pm. Vajpayee will be cremated Friday in the Indian capital with full state honours, BJP chief Amit Shah said.

Imprisoned along with other opposition leaders during the Emergency (1975-77), he merged the Jana Sangh into the newly-formed Janata Party to fashion a common front against the Congress in the 1977 elections.

In a blog later, the Prime Minister wrote, "In times of turbulence and disruption, a nation is blessed to have a leader who rises to become its moral compass and guiding spirit, providing vision, cohesion and direction to his people". The tests were a strategic masterstroke to blunt Pakistan's nuclear ambitions while at the same time announcing a moratorium on future testing.

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