Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee no more: BJP stalwart and one of India’s senior-most leader passed away at the age of 93 at 5:05 pm. Vajpayee was undergoing treatment at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for the past 9 weeks. The former Prime Minister was undergoing treatment for kidney tract infection and chest congestion. However, his condition had deteriorated in the past 24 hours following which he was put under the life support system and remained in critical condition.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as India’s Prime Minister for three terms. He first took oath as Prime Minister of India in 1996 when he was PM only for 13 days. In 1998-1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee once again became the Prime Minister but his government lasted only for 11 months. It was the period between 1999-2004 when he served as the Prime Minister of India for 6 years. Under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was the first non-Congress government which completed its full 5-year term.

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A series of senior leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, veteran BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, veteran Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and others visited Vajpayee’s residence in New Delhi to pay homage to the former Prime Minister.

Mourning the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while paying his last tributes to the BJP stalwart at his residence on Thursday said, “In Atal ji’s passing away, it is as if I have lost my father. It’s a void which can never be filled. It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick. 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.”

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Shashwat Bhandari