Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday turned 88 with senior leaders, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wishing him a healthy life.

Dr. Singh drove down to Mr. Vajpayee’s 6A, Krishna Menon Marg residence and spent about 15 minutes with the veteran leader.

President Pranab Mukherjee also sent Mr. Vajpayee a bouquet of flowers.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari, senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda were among Vajpayee’s early visitors.

“He received us with a smile,” BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after greeting Mr. Vajpayee.

Born in the family of a humble school teacher on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Mr. Vajpayee began his career as a poet, dabbled in journalism and later rose to become one of the most widely regarded political leaders of the country.

During his six-year tenure as Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee took the bold step of conducting the nuclear tests at Pokhran in May 1998. He is also considered a guru of coalition politics, who successfully led a government supported by as many as 24 political parties.

Among the BJP leaders who greeted him were Rajnath Singh, Shahnawaz Hussain, Kalraj Mishra, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Vijay Goel and Ananth Kumar.

“Vajpayee is a role model for the whole country for good governance. He is also known as guru of coalition politics. He led the nation on the path of progress,” Mr. Kumar said.

“We all wished him very good health and long life. So that he continues to be an inspiration for all of us,” he said.

On the occasion, BJP leaders also distributed blankets to the poor.

Nitish greets Vajpayee

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday greeted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 88 birth day.

The country will continue to benefit from the rich political experience of the former prime minister for a long time, Mr. Kumar said in his greeting to Mr. Vajpayee.

Mr. Vajpayee has set a high moral standard during his long active political career that all of us must follow, the Chief Minister said.

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