Published: Fri, August 17, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies

Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies

The condition of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has worsened over the past 24 hours and he has been put on life-support system, the AIIMS said in a statement tonight.

Ninety-three-year-old Vajpayee has been hospitalized for more than two months after being admitted for treatment of a kidney infection and chest congestion. The three-time prime minister has been ailing since he suffered a stroke in 2009. As his health failed, Vajpayee stayed out of the limelight even when the BJP returned to power a decade later and Narendra Modi became prime minister. He ordered nuclear tests in 1998 that raised fears of atomic war with Pakistan, but also, a few years later, reached across the border and made the first moves toward peace with Islamabad.

"A great economic reformer, as a Prime Minister he was always guided by a strong conviction that liberalisation would help us realize our economic potential and ultimately open the doors to becoming a globally competitive, strong and resilient economy", Bharti Enterprises Founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

State Funeral for Mr Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal, New Delhi.

Earlier in the day, thousands of people, including political leaders, paid their last tributes to Vajpayee.

Vajpayee avoided bedrock nationalist issues, like plans to build a Hindu temple at the site of a demolished north Indian mosque. Throughout his life, he stood for democratic values and demonstrated this commitment in all his acts, whether as a parliamentarian, a cabinet minister, or prime minister of India.

"Standing before the United States Congress in 2000, he famously characterized US-India ties as a "natural partnership of shared endeavors", US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of the founding members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which now governs India.

Top Indian politicians, including Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Congress party, and South Asian leaders including Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, also attended the cremation.

Prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan Thursday extended condolences over the demise of Vajpayee. The government conferred the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, on him in 2015. "Vajpayeeji's body is being taken to his residence where people can pay their last respects", the home minister told reporters in Delhi. His funeral is to be held Friday afternoon.

Besides, there will be no any celebration at any government establishments of the state for the next seven days.

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