Atal Bihari Vajpayee death: Tributes pour in

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies in New Delhi on Thursday, after a prolonged illness.

Leaders cutting across political parties and industrial organisations paid rich tribute to the departed soul.


‘Such a person is rarely born’

Opposition leader Sharad Yadav, who had served in the Vajpayee Cabinet, described the former Prime Minister as a statesman and one of the greatest leaders India has produced.

“He was a great human being, poet, leader and above all a statesman,” Mr. Yadav said in a statement.

He recalled that Vajpayee was one of the four MPs who had won on the ticket of Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1957 and then President S. Radhakrishnan was surprised to hear the party’s name as “he had not heard of it“.

“It showed that he was a very popular leader with whose name the party became known to Parliament,” Mr. Yadav said.

“Such people are rarely born,” he said.

“In his passing away, I have not only lost my beloved person but the country has lost a great patriot, parliamentarian, statesman and a veteran leader, who was very popular for his non-partisan politics,” he said.




Statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations, says Islamabad

Statement from spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Ministry:

“We have learnt with sadness the passing away of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India, who was undergoing treatment in a hospital in New Delhi.

“Mr. Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development.

“The Government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the Government and people of India.”




‘Great friend, highly respected in Bangladesh’

In a condolence message sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says:

"We are deeply shocked at the sad demise of the former Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of the most famous sons of India. He will be remembered for contributing towards good governance and for highlighting issues affecting the common people of India as well as for regional peace and prosperity.

“His tireless work for the welfare of the people of India will inspire future generations of leaders. An excellent orator and a poet Shri Vajpayee took significant strides towards acceleration of inclusive economic growth in India.

“Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was our great friend and highly respected in Bangladesh. As a token of recognition for his invaluable contribution to our Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh Government conferred on him the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour. Today is certainly a day of great sadness for all of us in Bangladesh.

“On behalf of the Government and the people of Bangladesh and on my own behalf, I express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Government and the mourning people of India, and to the members of the bereaved family. 

“We pray for the eternal peace of his soul.”





‘A true friend of Russia’

Russia  Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev’s message:

“We mourn the death of H.E. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a great statesman. His name became an integral part of a whole era in Indian politics. His devoted service to the nation can hardly be overestimated. Mr Vajpayee enjoyed due respect in India and globally.

“We knew him also as a poet, a man of knowledge and a true friend of our country, where he is well-known as one of the architects of our long-lasting and time-tested privileged strategic partnership.”




‘Vajpayee’s death has left a vacuum in Indian polity’

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda mourned the death of Vajpayee, saying a vacuum has been created in the country’s politics with his passing away, as several state leaders joined him in expressing grief. In his condolence message, Mr. Gowda said in the death of Vajpayee, the country has lost a statesman and politician who believed in the country’s diverse culture.

“He was a true parliamentarian. With his death, a vacuum has been created in polity and end of an era of politics in this country. He was a great orator who refused to attack his opponent personally. He did not allow the House to be disturbed during my tenure as the Prime Minister for the 11 months,” Mr. Gowda said.

Mr. Gowda’s son and Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy described Vajpayee as being among a “rare breed” of politicians who lived according to the values they believed in.

“His death has created a vacuum in the political circle of the country,” he said.



Sports fraternity mourns Vajpayee’s demise

India’s sporting fraternity, led by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, joined the nation in mourning the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“#AtalBihariVajpayee ji - A leader par excellence, a daring PM who made Pokhran possible, a highly principled politician & a poet of inspirational grit who was admired across party lines. His demise is an irreparable loss, and marks the end of an era. ? ????? ?????,” Rathore wrote on his twitter handle.

Batting great Tendulkar wrote, “India is at a great loss today. Shri #AtalBihariVajpayee ji’s contributions to our nation have been innumerable. Thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

The 93-year-old BJP stalwart’s condition worsened over the last 24 hours and he was put on life support systems.

“Asaman ko choo gaya, jo asmaan sa vishal tha, dharti mein simat gaya, jo mitti jaisa narm tha. Kaun hai jo Atal reh paya zindagi bhar, Atal banke wo zindagi ko paa gaya. Om Shanti #AtalBihariVajpayee ji,” cricketer Virender Sehwag said on the social networking site.

Olympic medallist boxer Vijender Singh said, “One of the Greatest PM this Country has ever seen.A visionary, A poet, A statesman, A man who won over million hearts. Man who deserves nothing but respect. Bharat Ratna #AtalBihariVajpayee is no more with us.His contribution for the motherland will inspire generations to come.”

Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand said, “India loses one of its great leaders. Gentle Giant thats a wonderful way to remember him and his work. My deepest condolences . #ripvajpayee.”

Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India on three occasions. His first term came in 1996 which lasted for 13 days. Later he was appointed as the PM for eleven months from 1998 and 1999. He then won the elections to serve a full five-year term as the Prime Minister between 1999 and 2004.

Cricketer Anil Kumble wrote, “A sad day for the country, as we lose one of our greatest leaders. #AtalBihariVajpayee contributed so much for the betterment of the country. May his soul rest in peace.”

VVS Laxman said, “One of India’s Most Loved Prime Minister, a great poet and a wonderful statesman. We as a nation will miss you sir #AtalBihariVaajpayee ji. Deepest condolences to admirers and loved ones.”

Opener Shikhar Dhawan wrote, “My deepest condolences on the passing of our former Prime Minister Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. One of the few politicians I always respected for his honesty and devotion to the national cause. May his soul rest in peace.”

The BCCI too expressed grief over the passing away of the iconic leader.

“The Indian Cricket Team and BCCI condoles the sad demise of former India Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Atalji dedicated his life in service of the nation,” the Indian Cricket Board tweeted.

Fast bowler Ishant Sharma said, “Saddened to hear the demise of a Great statesman & Glorious leader, Shri Vajpayeeji. He inspired us all with his exemplary conduct... My Heartfelt tribute to the departed soul #AtalBihariVaajpayee.”

Batsman Rohit Sharma wrote, “Not turning out to be a great week for India, as we lost another great leader RIP Shri #AtalBihariVaajpayee.”




India Inc pays rich tribute to “reformer” Vajpayee

India Inc paid a glowing tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, describing the former prime minister as a “great economic reformer” under whose visionary leadership the country made rapid strides in economic growth.

“All of us who knew Vajpayee are saddened to hear of his passing away. He was a great leader with a great sense of compassion and humour. He will be remembered fondly by a vast number of us,” said Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts.

A guiding light for the nation through all his years in public life, Vajpayee remained a strong proponent of industrial and economic development through market reforms, noted industry the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“The second generation of economic reforms introduced under his visionary leadership contributed greatly to a facilitative investment climate which in turn promoted India’s rapid growth,” CII President Rakesh Bharti Mittal said.

“The nation has lost a statesman of independent India. An iconic leader on the world stage, Vajpayee led India with great wisdom, foresight and love for the country,” said N Chandrasekaran, Chairman Tata Sons.

“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.

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra also recalled his meetings with the late former prime minister.

“RIP Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The leadership lesson that I learned from my interactions with him was that no matter how significant your achievements while in office, you ultimately earn the affection of people through your humanity and your humility...,” he said in a tweet.

Ficci president Rashesh Shah said the former prime minister was one of the most dynamic leaders who ushered in an era of reforms, progress and took the country forward.

“Our nation has lost one of our great political leaders who steered our country as Prime Minister to great heights. A man of great vision and charisma,” Biocon Chairperson and MD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted.

Assocham President Sandeep Jajodia said Vajpayee’s towering personality, vision for nation building and deep respect for democratic institutions would remain an inspiration for the present and coming generations.

“He (Vajpayee) put the nation on fast track with initiatives like Golden Quadrilateral project, the New Telecom Policy, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and the Fiscal Responsibility Act that laid down the path for future governments to follow,” Dr Prathap Reddy, Founder & Chairman, Apollo Hospitals said.

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Anil Khaitan expressed deep anguish over the passing away of Vajpayee, saying that a vacuum has been created with his death which would be extremely difficult to fill.

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani said Vajpayee will inspire the generations to come.

Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) Chairman Naveen Jindal said He was a great leader and excellent statesman who was loved and admired all.

Vedanta Resources Plc Group Chairman Anil Agarwal said in a statement that today, India has lost a true son of the soil, who rose from a very humble background to lead the country at a crucial juncture.

An excellent orator, a mass leader, a fire power and a sensitive human being, Vajpayee was one of India’s tallest leaders and was the first to address United Nations in Hindi, he said.



TN leaders express grief over Vajpayee’s death

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister K Palaniswami expressed grief over the death of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee.

In a statement, Mr. Purohit said Vajpayee was an outstanding statesman, a great orator and role model for politicians and poets and his death “fills me with great shock and grief.”

“A great son of Mother India is no more. But his service to the people of India as the Prime Minister of the nation, memories of his speeches in Parliament and outside, and his qualities of tolerance and magnanimity will live on forever,” the governor said.

Highlighting his administrative skills, Mr. Palaniswami said Vajpayee, the first prime minister from BJP, had slogged his entire life.

DMK working president M K Stalin said, Despite ideological differences, the late ‘Kalaignar’ M Karunanidhi shared cordial relationship with Vajpayee.

“By taking part in a protest by Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation, organised in Madurai, for the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Vajpayee made TN is a big loss to the country,” he said.

AMMK, DMDK, MDMK, Tamil Maanila Congress also expressed grief over the death.




Vajpayee had no enemies, says Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram described former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as someone who anchored the BJP close to the middle and did not allow the party to swing to the extreme right of the political spectrum.

In a condolence message, he said it was a fact that Vajpayee had no enemies and it was his distinguishing hallmark.

“As long as he was at the helm, he resolutely anchored the BJP close to the middle and did not allow the party to swing to the extreme right of the political spectrum,” he said.

The former finance and home minister said the BJP patriarch would be remembered for many things but above all for his genuine efforts to resolve the decades-long hostility between Pakistan and India.

“Vajpayee ji was a man of great wisdom, tolerance and compassion. He led his party to its first victory in national elections and established the credentials of the BJP to run the central government,” he said.




Vajpayee believed in multi-party democracy: Left

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was often described as the moderate face of the BJP, was a true believer in a multi-party democracy, Left parties said.

Left leaders, who were otherwise strong critics of the former prime minister’s ideology, said Vajpayee always kept open the lines of consultation when he was in government and reached out to opposition parties before taking important decisions.

“When the US invaded Iraq and asked India to be a part of the coalition forces, Vajpayee had called Left leaders — CPI leader A B Bardhan and CPI(M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet - at an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.

“Left leaders had raised objection to India supporting the US. Vajpayee told the Left leaders that ‘jao bahar jake jor se bolo’, meaning they should raise their voice against the US on streets. Next day Parliament passed a resolution stating India will not be part of the coalition forces,” CPI leader D Raja said.

CPI(M) said the very fact that such an important issue was brought to Parliament, displayed that Vajpayee valued the observations of opposition parties.

“There are other instances where he displayed character which is very different from today’s government. That is — ideologically or politically there can be issues of confrontations, but when it comes to personal rapport with other leaders or parties there was difference that we don’t see today. That is why he was acceptable to a large section of people. Whatever face he had he had good relations with all parties,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.

Though the Left parties used to call Vajpayee a “mask” of the RSS, hiding his party’s links with Hindu groups, they, however, agreed that he openly disagreed with his party’s line on several issues.

“Vajpayee’s trusted lieutenant L K Advani and most BJP politicians supported the demolition of Babri Masjid but Vajpayee condemned the attack unequivocally,” Mr. Raja said.


India lost a great son, says Rahul

Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweets "Today India lost a great son. Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family & all his admirers. We will miss him."


Vajpayee will be remembered for remarkable leadership: Naidu

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu condoled the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he will be remembered for his remarkable leadership and devotion to duty.

“I visited him this morning but didn’t imagine that the end will come so soon. He is, undoubtedly, one of the tallest leaders in post- independence India,” he said in his condolence message.

Mr. Naidu said Vajpayee’s contribution to strengthen democracy and good governance has been stupendous. He successfully ran a coalition of 23 parties with his rare persuasive charm and competence, he recalled.

“He will be remembered for ushering in the connectivity revolution in the country. His personality, oratory, devotion to duty and friendliness all combined in his remarkable leadership will be remembered for a along time to come,” he said.



Became Lok Sabha speaker due to Vajpayee: Joshi

Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi credited former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for becoming the Lok Sabha Speaker when the BJP-led government was in power at the Centre.

Mr. Joshi, a former Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai, said he could occupy the prestigious post only due to the support of the then Prime Minister Vajpayee.

“I thought it was impossible to become the Lok Sabha Speaker. I never thought about it. But the BJP, especially Vajpayee’s stand, helped me.

“Had he not taken that firm stand, I would not have become the Speaker. Not just that, I could reach the position of Chief Minister of Maharashtra due to the BJP’s and Vajpayee’s support,” Mr. Joshi told a Marathi news channel.

The 80-year-old was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2002 to 2004 during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, in which his party was a partner.




Vajpayee nursed BJP into a banyan tree in Indian politics: Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah paid heartfelt tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he nursed the party to make it a banyan tree and left an indelible mark in Indian politics.

“Atalji emerged as a popular national leader who believed that power is a means of service and led a spotless political life without compromising on national interest. And that’s why the people across political and social boundaries showered him with love and respect,” Mr. Shah tweeted.

“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,” the BJP chief said, adding that his thoughts, poems, foresight and political skills would always inspire and guide all.

“On the one hand Atalji as the head of a party in opposition played the role of an ideal opposition while on the other hand he provided the country a decisive leadership as Prime Minister,” Mr. Shah said.


Lost my closest friend: Advani

"I am at a loss of words to express my deep grief and sadness today as we all mourn the passing away of one of India’s tallest statesmen, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To me, Atalji was more than a senior colleague- in fact he was my closest friend for over 65 years," said L.K. Advani.

"As my senior, he always encouraged and guided me in every possible manner.

"His captivating leadership qualities, mesmerising oratory, soaring patriotism and above all, his sterling humane qualities like compassion, humility and his remarkable ability to win over adversories despite ideological differences have all had a profound effect on me in all my years in public life," Mr. Advani said.



A great loss, says Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condoled the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today, saying his death was “a great loss” for the country.

Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia had visited the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, where Vajpayee was admitted since June 11, earlier today.

“Am deeply saddened. A great loss for India,” Kejriwal tweeted.

The chief minister, who turned 50 today, had appealed to his party’s volunteers and well wishers to avoid celebrating his birthday.



Gentle giant, says Kovind

Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all, said President Ram Nath Kovind.


Chief Ministers pay tribute

"Deeply pained by the passing away of our beloved Atal ji. India has lost a great leader, a leader of masses and a visionary who dedicated his entire life in service of the nation and its people," said Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

His words were our strength, his blessings were our energy, said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.  Mr. Chauahan also said Mr. Vajpayee dedicated his life to serve the the nation.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in his condolence message, said the nation has lost an important political figure who was also an orator, poet, writer, and intellectual.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed deep grief over demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and described him as one of the “tallest leaders” of the country. “I am deeply grieved over demise of Vajpayeeji. India has lost one of its tallest leaders. He was loved by the people of India and of course the people of Odisha as well. May his soul rest in peace,” Mr. Patnaik said.

Assam Governor Jagadish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal mourned the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The nation has lost an eminent statesman who had earned the unique distinction of being the first non-Congress prime minister, the Governor said in a statement. The sagacity and leadership of the former Prime Minister at both the national and international levels has been a source of inspiration and guidance”, he said. Mr. Sonowal described Vajpayee as a statesman, ideologue, icon and one of independent India’s greatest leaders. “Vajpayeeji’s resolute leadership transformed India and gave us wings to dream and achieve,” Mr. Sonowal tweeted.

Kerala mourned along with the rest of the nation the death of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. Governor P Sathasivam said the nation has lost one of the most beloved and respected leaders whose charisma stood above political considerations. “With the loftiest ideals of statecraft, the noblest sense of diplomacy and a masterfully poetic oratory, he was a perfect synthesis of sage-like wisdom and modernism. May his soul rest in peace.” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan described Vajpayee as a great parliamentarian, orator and a diplomat who ably presented India’s rights in international platforms. As one of the founding leaders of BJP, he had exhibited skills to take along various groups while leading the coalition government, Mr. Vijayan added.


Congress condoles

"Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a great leader, loved by many & revered by all. We grieve his demise & our thoughts & prayers are with his family today," tweeted Congress.

"Today India lost a great son. Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family & all his admirers. We will miss him," said Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

“An excellent orator, an impressive poet, an exceptional Public Servant, an outstanding Parliamentarian and a great PM, Shri Vajpayee ji stood among the tallest leaders of modern India,  who spent his whole life serving our great country,” former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the nation has lost a dignified political leader. "While we know Vajpayee had a lot of friends, what we don't know is he had no enemies," Mr. Chidambaram tweeted in Tamil.


A great statesman, says Mamata Banerjee

"Very very saddened  that the great statesman and former PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji is no more with us. His passing away is a very big loss to our nation. I will always  cherish the many fond memories. Condolences to his family and his many admirers," said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Ms. Banerjee was Mr. Vajpayee's cabinet colleague. She was planning to visit Delhi today to enquire about the former prime minister.


'A reasoned critique, seeker of consensus,' Pranab praises Vajpayee

"Deeply saddened at the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee," said former President Pranab Mukherjee. 

"A reasoned critique in opposition and a seeker of consensus as PM, Atal Ji was a democrat to the core. In his passing away, India has lost a great son and an era has come to an end. My deepest condolences," he added.


‘Pained beyond words,’ says Rajnath Singh

“Pained beyond words at the demise of Shri Atalji. He had cherished the ideal of a developed and powerful India in which all persons lived together in unity, peace and harmony,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Twitter.

“Atalji was a true ‘Ajatshatru’ who had many friends across the political spectrum. He believed in political consensus and his beliefs had consequential effect on Indian politics.”

“In Atalji’s demise the nation has lost a stalwart who was known for statesmanship and astute leadership. It is also a huge personal loss to me. I am one of those millions of Indians who drew inspiration from Atalji’s life and contribution.

“I cannot fully imagine my own life without following the footprints that Atalji set. May his soul rest in peace.”


Modi says ‘India grieves the demise of our Atalji’

“His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It was Atal Ji's exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India.”

“Atal Ji's passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me. I have countless fond memories with him. He was an inspiration to Karyakartas like me. I will particularly remember his sharp intellect and outstanding wit.”

“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.”

(With inputs from PTI)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 6:33:43 PM |

Next Story