Veteran political leader, prolific writer and former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away in New Delhi. He was 93. Considered a giant of Indian politics, he served as prime minister three times between 1996 and 2004 and was instrumental in making India a global nuclear power.
Vajpayee was one of the founding members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently governs India. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has called his predecessor’s death an “irreplaceable loss”. The current Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, said millions “loved and respected” Vajpayee. “Today India lost a great son. We will miss him,” Gandhi tweeted. Vajpayee was ousted as PM in 2004 elections by the Congress party led by Manmohan Singh, who said, “Shri Vajpayee Ji stood among the tallest leaders of modern India, who spent his whole life serving our great country. His services to our nation will be remembered for a long time to come.”
During his second stint as prime minister in 1998, he surprised the world by announcing that India had conducted a series of underground nuclear tests. Some of his pet projects launched during his tenure as PM were National Highway Development Project (Golden Quadrilateral) and Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. In 2009, he had retired from active politics due to health concerns. He was awarded the India’s highest civilian honour ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2015. His birthday is celebrated as Good Governance Day (GGD) by the Central Government since 2014 to foster awareness among the people of accountability in government. His poetry collection is released in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems).
He was born on 25th December 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He parliamentarian for over 47 years elected to Lok Sabha for 10 times (elected for first time in 1957 from Balrampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh) and 2 times to Rajya Sabha. During first non-Congress Government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai in Centre he had served as Minister of External Affairs. His death was announced on Thursday by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, where Vajpayee had been undergoing treatment for more than two months for a kidney infection and chest congestion.