New Delhi, Aug. 16: Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at AIIMS this evening at 5.05 pm bringing to an end a glorious political innings. He was 93.
AIIMS announced the demise of the BJP veteran saying, “It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former PM of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 5.05 pm on August 16.”
Vajpayee was admitted to AIIMS on June 11 and was stable in the last nine 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,” the bulletin issued by Dr Aarti Vij, chairperson, media and protocol division, AIIMS said.
The late leader’s body will be first taken to his residence 6, Krishna Menon Marg, where a host of BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah will be present along with BJP senior LK Advani who has been a Vajpayee associate for years.
After the family and friends pay homage, Vajpayee’s body will be taken to the BJP headquarters for last respects.
Vajpayee, a bachelor, is survived by his adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.
Earlier today, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other BJP as well as opposition leaders drove to AIIMS as it became clear that the end was near.
"It was Atalji's exemplary leadership that set the foundations for prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century," Modi said.
Vajpayee, who joined the Rastriya Swamsevak Sangha (RSS) in 1947 rose through ranks to become a stalwart of the BJP and was the first non-Congress prime minister to complete a full term in office.
"It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick," Modi said in a tweet.
"He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread the BJP's message, which led to the BJP becoming a strong force in our national polity and in several states," he added.
The former prime minister was admitted to the hospital on June 11 with a kidney tract infection, urinary tract infection, low urine output and chest congestion.
Vajpayee, a diabetic, had only one functional kidney. He suffered a stroke in 2009 that weakened his cognitive abilities. Subsequently, he developed dementia.
Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to a schoolteacher, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, and Krishna Devi. Today, his birthday is celebrated as 'Good Governance Day'.
Officials said the Union Cabinet will meet shortly to pass a resolution to condole Vajpayee's demise.
They said modalities about the funeral and the mourning period would be discussed.
In his tribute, BJP president Amit Shah said he was a "rare politician, brilliant speaker, poet and patriot, his demise is not just a irreparable loss for the BJP but also for the entire country."
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter: "Today India lost a great son. Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family and all his admirers. We will miss him." — The Tribune With PTI inputs
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