Atal Bihari Vajpayee funeral updates: Gun salute accorded to ex-PM; body consigned to flames in Delhi

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee funeral updates: Gun salute accorded to ex-PM; body consigned to flames in Delhi
  • 17:04 (IST)

    Ex-PM's body consigned to flames at Smriti Sthal

    After being accorded a gun salute, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's body was consigned to flames at Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

  • 16:54 (IST)

    Vajpayee's adopted daughter performs last rites

    The last rites are being performed by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya at Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

  • 16:45 (IST)

    Final rites begin in the presence of Vajpayee's family members

  • 16:35 (IST)

    Tricolour wrapped around Vajpayee's body handed over to his granddaughter

    Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's granddaughter Niharika was handed over the Tricolour which was used to drape his mortal remains.

  • 16:33 (IST)

    LK Advani, Amit Shah pay last respects 

    Senior BJP leader LK Advani and party chief Amit Shah paid homage to Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

  • 16:25 (IST)

    SAARC representatives in attendance

    King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid his last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    "We are here to share your grief and pay our condolences on the behalf of people of Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan," Pakistan law minister Ali Zafar told ANI.

  • 16:21 (IST)

    La Liga, Spain's official football league pays tribute to Vajpayee

    In a Facebook post, Spain's official football league La Liga wrote, "Poet, politician, philosopher, but above all an amazing human being and a true patriot. RIP Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    "La Liga wishes their most heartfelt condolence. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all."

  • 16:10 (IST)

    Watch: Last rites ceremony underway at Smriti Sthal in Delhi

  • 16:06 (IST)

    France condoles Vajpayee's death

    In a statement, the France government said, "Poet, politician, visionary, he left his mark on India’s history. His name remains linked to the Indo-French friendship, which he shaped by launching the strategic partnership that has united our two countries since 1998."

  • 16:04 (IST)

    Army, navy, air force pay homage to ex-prime minister

    All three forces — army, navy and air force — laid wreath on the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Army chief Bipin Rawat and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman paid last respects. 

  • 15:59 (IST)

    Kejriwal, Raman Singh among leaders present at Smriti Sthal

    Among the leaders present at the venue for the last rites ceremony are Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, and his deputy Manish Sisodia, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ashok Gehlot and Raj Babbar.

  • 15:56 (IST)

    ​Vajpayee's body brought to Smriti Sthal

    ​The mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee have arrived at Smriti Sthal, where the last rites ceremony will be held. 

  • 15:46 (IST)

    Union Jack flies at half-mast at the British High Commission

    As a mark of respect to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Union Jack at the British High Commission in New Delhi is flying at half-mast.

    Image courtesy: ANI

  • 15:33 (IST)

    Asian Games 2018 medals dedicated to Vajpayee: Chef de Mission of Asian Games

  • 15:22 (IST)

    Thousands join cortege

    Not just BJP leaders, but thousands have joined the cortege carrying the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

  • 15:17 (IST)

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee begins his last journey

    At 1 pm, a cortege from the BJP headquarters took the mortal remains of the former prime minister enroute to the Rashtriya Smiti Sthal. Expressing his grief over the incident, Advani yesterday shared, "To me, Atalji was more than a senior colleague- in fact, he was my closest friend for over 65 years." Advani further said that the former Prime Minister guided him throughout his life adding, "Atalji will be remembered as the pioneer of the first ever stable non-Congress coalition government at the Centre and I had the privilege of working as his deputy for six years."

  • 14:58 (IST)

    Modi, Amit Shah likely to walk the entire 3.6-km stretch from BJP HQ to Smriti Sthal 

    If reports are to be believed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are probably going to walk the entire 3.6-kilometre stretch from BJP headquarter to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal. 

  • 14:51 (IST)

    Young and the old gather outside BJP HQ

    The young and old, men and women, some with children, collected outside the gates of the BJP headquarters, anxious for a last glimpse of the late leader before the state funeral at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna later in the day. 
     
     
    Some clambered on a neem tree outside the BJP headquarters for a better look, desperate to be part of the proceedings but unable to get inside. - PTI

  • 14:32 (IST)

    Thousands gather to pay homage to Vajpayee

    Thousands of mourners jostled and some clambered on trees to capture the moment on their phones as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cortege left the BJP's headquarters for Rashtriya Smriti Sthal for the last rites of the poet-politician. 

    People from across the country gathered outside the BJP headquarters and hundreds lined up inside to pay homage to the former prime minister, who wove together pragmatism and a vision for an inclusive India.

  • 14:20 (IST)

    Map showing route to be taken from BJP headquarters to cremation ground

  • 14:12 (IST)

    WATCH: Atal Bihari Vajpayee's final journey to Smriti Sthal for cremation

  • 14:12 (IST)

    Visuals of Vajpayee's mortal remains being shifted from BJP headquarters

    Mortal remains of Atal Bihari Vajpayee depart for last rites at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, on what will be the former Prime Minister's final journey. His funeral is expected to take place at 4 pm.

  • 14:03 (IST)

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee begins his final journey

    Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's mortal remains are being take to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal for cremation. As the coffin carrying his remains is carried out of the BJP headquarters, party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be seen walking behind it. 

  • 13:58 (IST)

    Bhutan king pays tribute to Vajpayee at BJP HQ

    Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the BJP headquaters in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. 

  • 13:55 (IST)

    Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand formed under Vajpayee's rule

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee's signature in politics was achieving pragmatic consensus and this was manifested when under his government, three new states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were formed in 2000 peacefully.
     
    The states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were formed on 1 November, 9 November and 15 November, 2000, respectively. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand from Bihar.
     
    "Under Vajpayee ji, the NDA divided three major states — Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — and created three new states - Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand without even a ripple of disturbance," LK Advani had said in a blog. - PTI

  • 13:54 (IST)

    Void left by Vajpayee would be impossible to fill, says former PM's family

    The death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a huge loss and his departure has left a void that would be "impossible to fill", his family members said on Thursday. Vajpayee, a bachelor, is survived by his adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.

    "It is a very big loss for us and his death has left a void that would be impossible to fill," said Anoop Mishra, nephew of Vajpayee.

  • 13:37 (IST)

    EU tweets condolences on Vajpayee's passing

    The European Union said they bloc will remember Vajpayee's visionary contributions to EU-India relations. "We express our deepest sympathies on the passing away of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and with the people of India," it said in a tweet. 

  • 13:30 (IST)

    Sri Lanka minister reaches New Delhi to attend Vajpayee's funeral

    Sri Lanka acting foreign minister Lakshman Kiriella arrived in New Delhi to attend former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral at Smriti Sthal at 4 pm.

  • 13:26 (IST)

    Swami Agnivesh assualted on DDU Marg

    The Indian Express reported that Swami Agnivesh was assaulted outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi's DDU Marg. He was on his way to pay his respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when the incident took place. The incident comes a month after he was allegedly assaulted by a mob of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists in Jharkhand’s Pakur. 

  • 13:21 (IST)

    Narendra Modi returns to BJP headquarters

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to the BJP headquarters, shortly before the funeral procession to the cremation ground is taken out. The cremation of veteran BJP leader and three time prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will take place at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal near Rajghat in New Delhi on Friday.

  • 13:13 (IST)

    Great loss for India, says UK envoy on Vajpayee's death

    "He was an enormously important person who we have great respect for and it's a great loss for India. I wanted to pay my respects to a man of that stature," said Dominic Asquith, British High Commissioner to India.  

  • 13:12 (IST)

    Vajpayee never let humanity harmed due to differences, says Sitaram Yechury

    Calling it a specialty of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told ANI, "It was the speciality of Atal ji that he never let humanity be harmed due to the political and ideological differences. Such principle is needed in the country today."

  • 13:04 (IST)

    Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia pay respects to Vajpayee

    Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and AAP MP Sanjay Singh paid their last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. 

  • 12:50 (IST)

    Remember Vajpayee for his contribution to Bangladesh Liberation War, says foreign minister

    Arriving in New Delhi to attend Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral, Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said, "We remember him for his contribution to Bangladesh Liberation War and strong support to people of Bangladesh. He had great liking for Bengali music.I had the privilege of serving in Delhi as career diplomat when he became foreign minister,"

  • 12:40 (IST)

    Bollywood film industry pays tribute to Vajpayee

    Expressing their condolences, Bollywood film stars remembered his role in Indian politics. 

    "I met him once in 2006. He was a very good orator. The void of his absence can never be filled by anyone in Indian politics, he has been a role model for everyone and inspired many through his poetry, speeches and oratorship," said filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar. 

    Actor John Abraham tweeted his condolences and said,"For me he was one of India’s greatest leaders loved and respected by all. He will be missed."

  • 12:36 (IST)

    Hope current govt fulfil Vajpayee's dream to befriend Pakistan: Farooq Abdullah

    Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said Vajpayee wanted India to belong to everyone. "He also wanted to strike up a friendship with Pakistan. Unfortunately he couldn't see that. I hope that the current govt and Pakistan's Imran Khan government fulfil his dream, that will be a true tribute to him," he told ANI. 

  • 12:20 (IST)

    Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali arrives in New Delhi

    Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has arrived in New Delhi. He will be attending former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral on Friday evening. 

  • 12:16 (IST)

    LK Advani, Uddhav Thackeray at BJP Thackeray

    BJP patriarch LK Advani and Shiva Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray can be seen at the BJP headquarters with their families. Advani had earlier paid his final respects to his long-time comrade Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the former prime minister's body lies in state at BJP headquarters in New Delhi. 

  • 12:05 (IST)

    Devendra Fadnavis, Raman Singh pay tributes

    Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Raman Singh paid their tributes at the BJP headquarters on Friday. 

  • 11:58 (IST)

    Amitabh Bachchan says former PM's 'oratory powers were unmatched'

    "He was an admirer of my father and his works and there were many an occasion when I would be present at their meetings," Amitabh, son of late prolific and celebrated writer Harivansh Rai Bachchan, wrote on his blog.

    He said his father knew Vajpayee, who was then a student. Harivansh Rai, he says, was very impressed by Vajpayee's oratory skills, which was his virtue. "His oratory powers were unmatched and the usage of words exemplary. They were filled with the power of pronunciation. The rendition of the word was enough to give it meaning... One did not need to understand the language, that was his brilliance. Some of his public speeches and ones done in the Houses of Parliament are testimony. A poet, a writer, a politician, a Prime Minister... an extremely rare human," Amitabh wrote.

  • 11:50 (IST)

    Yogi Adityanath, Sarbananda Sonowal and other senior leader pay their respects

    Senior BJP leaders such as Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik gathered at the saffron party headquarters to pay their last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. DMK leader A Raja was also seen there. 

  • 11:46 (IST)

    Leaders from Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh to attend Vajpayee's funeral

    Bhutanese king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk arrived in the National Capital on Friday and is here to attend the last rites of Bharat Ratna awardee and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He will be joined by a host of foreign dignitaries including foreign minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and Bangladesh, AH Mahmood Ali. 

    Sri Lanka's Department of Government Information confirmed that the country's acting foreign affairs minister Lakshman Kiriella would grace his presence at the funeral service of 93-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart, as the special envoy of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    According to Dunya News, Pakistan is planning to send its envoy to attend Vajpayee's funeral procession. Pakistan's acting Law and Information Minister Ali Zafar is likely to attend the last rites of former Indian prime minister.

  • 11:37 (IST)

    Delhi Traffic Police announces new traffic regulations ahead of funeral

    Delhi Police said they have made elaborate security arrangements in the city in view of the final journey and funeral ceremony of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The founding member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who breathed his last at the All India Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on Thursday, will be laid to rest at the Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna.

    "We have made elaborate security arrangements for the last rites and the procession ahead of it. We will ensure that people who come to pay their last respect and the commuters face minimum inconvenience," Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said.

  • 11:36 (IST)

    Unforgettable moments with Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Amit Shah

    Like many politicians, BJP chief Amit Shah shared old photos with Vajpayee.

  • 11:34 (IST)

    Seven-day state mouring announced by Centre

    A seven-day state mourning has been announced by the Centre and the national flag would fly at half-mast from today for seven days across India. The half holiday stands for all central government offices, central public sector undertakings across the country and the Delhi government offices. The West Bengal government has declared a half-day holiday today. In Goa, all government offices, public sector undertakings and educational institutions will also remain closed. 

  • 11:29 (IST)

    Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Pragmatist yet an incurable romantic

    Firstpost oped says: Vajpayee took a bus to Lahore and signed the Lahore Declaration with Nawaz Sharif only to watch Pakistan army intrude into Kargil. Undeterred, Vajpayee invited General Pervez Musharraf, who had unseated Sharif in a coup after Kargil misadventure, for a summit in Agra. It proved to be another disaster. Musharraf left for Islamabad in a huff as talks fell through, and not long afterwards Pakistan-backed terrorists launched an audacious attack on India’s seat of democracy: the Parliament House.

    “When the Agra Summit failed in 2001, we had the Parliament attack in December. When Indian forces were deployed in response, we had the attack on Kalu Chak in May 2002 and the two countries almost went to war,” reminds former R&AW chief Vikram Sood.

    In 2004, Vajpayee tried one last time to normalise ties with Pakistan. The January 2004 joint declaration had Musharraf reassuring Vajpayee “that he will not permit any territory under Pakistan's control to be used to support terrorism in any manner." The fate of that “reassurance” is well known. Vajpayee’s romanticism almost led to him acceding to Musharraf demands in Agra, and it was only due to Lal Krishna Advani’s pragmatism that the day was saved, as R Jagannathan writes in Swarajyamag.

  • 11:27 (IST)

    Politican of poltiicians

    Firstpost oped says: Some call Vajpayee a philosopher, a thinker and a poet in Parliament. Some vouch that he was a good listener and a supreme orator. Some swear that he was a true democrat, a statesman, a diplomat, one of India’s ablest administrators and a wily politician who taught India the art of coalition politics. Others describe him as a leader who carried himself and his rivals along with dignity in a five-decade long career in Parliament. He is at once a ‘moderate’, a ‘mukhauta’ who paved the way for “majoritarian rule”, the ‘right man in a wrong party’ and even a ‘pseudo Hindu’ who ‘betrayed the Hindu cause’.

  • 11:24 (IST)

    WATCH: Last rites of Bharat Ratna, former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

  • 11:21 (IST)

    Senior BJP leaders pay last respect to Vajpayee

  • 11:20 (IST)

    Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh pay last respects to Vajpayee

    The senior BJP leadership — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh — paid their last respects to the former prime minister. Other BJP leaders were present too. 

    The last remains of Vajpayee will be taken to Rashtriya Smriti Sthal at 4 pm.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee funeral latest updates: After being accorded a gun salute, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's body was consigned to flames. The last rites were being performed by Vajpayee's adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya at Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

Representatives from SAARC paid last respects to Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal in Delhi. King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and Pakistan law minister Ali Zafar were among those from the South East Asia who paid homage.

All three forces — army, navy and air force — laid wreath on the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Army chief Bipin Rawat and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman paid last respects. Several leaders across party lines are present at the venue for the last rites ceremony.

While Narendra Modi and Amit Shah walked behind the hearse of the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Chef de Mission of Asian Games Brij Bhushan Charan Singh said, "All the medals which will be won by the Indian athletes in Asian Games 2018 will be dedicated to Atal Bihari Vajpayee." 

If reports are to be believed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are probably going to walk the entire 3.6-kilometre stretch from BJP headquarter to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal behind the cortege along with ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's mortal remains. 

Thousands of mourners jostled and some clambered on trees to capture the moment on their phones as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cortege left the BJP's headquarters for Rashtriya Smriti Sthal for the last rites of the poet-politician.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's mortal remains are being take from the BJP headquarters in New Delhi to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal for cremation. As the coffin carrying his remains is carried out of the BJP headquarters, party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be seen walking behind it.

The European Union said they bloc will remember Vajpayee's visionary contributions to EU-India relations. "We express our deepest sympathies on the passing away of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and with the people of India," it said in a tweet.

The cremation of veteran BJP leader and three time prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will take place at Smriti Sthal near Rajghat in Delhi on Friday.

Senior BJP leaders such as Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik gathered at the saffron party headquarters to pay their last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A host of foreign dignitaries including foreign ministers of Nepal and Bangladesh will attend former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral on Friday. Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk has already reached New Delhi. The Sri Lankan government announced country's acting foreign affairs minister Lakshman Kiriella will be attending the funeral.

The senior leadership of the BJP — Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh — paid their respects to Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the party headquarters. The last remains of Vajpayee will be taken to Rashtriya Smriti Sthal at 4 pm.

After the last rites of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are conducted, authorities reportedly plan to construct a memorial for the BJP veteran near Raj Ghat. An MCD official told News18, that following an inspection of the site, plans for a memorial have been finalised.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays a wreath on the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as he pays last respects at BJP headquarters. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays a wreath on the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as he pays last respects at BJP headquarters. PTI

Penning an eulogy to BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him the nation's 'moral compass' and 'guiding spirit'. "In times of turbulence and disruption, a nation is blessed to have a leader who rises to become its moral compass and guiding spirit, providing vision, cohesion and direction to his people. And, in such a moment at the turn of the century, India found one in Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was gifted in spirit, heart and mind," he wrote.

The Supreme Court of India and the Registry will observe a half-day holiday on Friday to mark the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached the BJP headquarters in New Delhi ahead of the convoy carrying Vajpayee's mortal remains' arrival.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's mortal remains are being moved in a flower-decorated truck to the BJP headquarters at Deendayal Upadhyay Marg in New Delhi. They will remain there till 1 pm, after which the final funeral procession to the cremation ground on the banks of river Yamuna will take place.

Over five lakh people are expected to attend late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral on Friday, including VVIPs, politicians and dignitaries at the BJP headquarters and the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal.

On Friday morning, hundreds of people gathered outside Atal Bihari Vajpayee's New Delhi residence to pay their last respects to the former prime minister. His body has been kept at his home for public viewing from 7.30 am to 8.30 am.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee's former private secretary Shakti Sinha wrote in the Hindustan Times about his experience working with the late prime minister closely. "Vajpayee was an uncompromising patriot, with a strong sense of his Hinduness, which was cultural and civilisational. That meant that the primary loyalty citizens was to the country.”

Central Delhi has been placed under heavy security due to Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral procession that will take place on Friday. More than 20,000 security personnel have been deployed and Independence Day security arrangement has been extended as well.

Veteran leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee's body has been kept at his official residence: 6A Krishna Menon Marg. People can pay homage to the late prime minister at his home between 7.30 am and 8.30 am on Friday.

The funeral procession for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will leave the BJP headquarters at 1 pm and the last rites performed at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal at 4 pm on Friday. The Smriti Sthal is a common memorial site, located between Jawaharlal Nehru's memorial 'Shanti Van' and Lal Bahadur Shahstri's 'Vijay Ghat'. Vajpayee's last rites will be performed on a raised platform, surrounded by greenery.

Keeping in mind the final procession of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday, the Delhi Police has issued a traffic advisory for the National Capital. Almost all roads leading to central Delhi including Krishna Memon Marg, Akbar Road, Janpath and India Gate C-Hexagon, among others, will remain closed from 8 am onwards for the general public today in order to ensure smooth vehicular movement during Vajpayee's final journey.

Leaving boundaries of their respective parties, political leaders on Thursday bid an emotional goodbye to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee describing him as a visionary statesman with acceptability across a diverse ideological spectrum, a gentle giant and a consensus seeker.

Vajpayee, who was 93, died at AIIMS on Thursday evening after a prolonged illness. Several leaders saw a personal loss in death of Vajpayee, one of India's most respected leaders who led the nation through several crises and held together a tenuous coalition with his inclusive politics.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Vajpayee as a "father figure" who taught him valuable aspects about Sangathan (organisation) and Shaasan (administration)." In a brief televised address, Modi said Vajpayee used to hug him with affection whenever they met.

Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, who along with Vajpayee was a central figure in the party for much of its existence, described the former prime minister as one of the country's tallest statesmen and his closest friend for over 65 years whom he will miss immensely.

Leaders pay tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at his Krishna Menon Marg residence, in New Delhi. PTI

Leaders pay tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at his Krishna Menon Marg residence, in New Delhi. PTI

President Ram Nath Kovind said the "gentle giant" will be missed by one and all. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said Vajpayee was a great patriot and among modern India's tallest leaders who spent his whole life serving the country.

Former president Pranab Mukherjee said India had lost a great son and an era has come to an end, as he described the BJP stalwart as a reasoned critique in the opposition, who dominated the space like a titan, and a seeker of consensus as prime minister.

Describing him as a democrat to the core, Mukherjee, in a letter to Vajpayee's adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya, said the former prime minister led the government with aplomb and was an inheritor and practitioner of the best traditions and qualities of leadership.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said India has lost "a great son" who was loved and respected by millions. Several of his own party leaders also said Vajpayee was an inspiration to millions, an intense speaker and a true diplomat.

BJP chief Amit Shah said Vajpayee nursed the party from its inception to make it a banyan tree and left an indelible mark in Indian politics.

The party would work to fulfil the mission he has left behind, Shah told reporters.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said Vajpayee would always listen to his alliance partners as that was his style of working. The Trinamool leader flew to Delhi from Kolkata on Thursday evening and spent an hour at Vajpayee's residence to pay her last respects to the leader, under whom she had served as a union minister.

Union minister Jitendra Singh said even non-BJP supporters would listen to Vajpayee in public rallies just to pick up speaking skills from his oratory.

Singh, minister of state in the prime minister's office, said, "We grew up listening to him, learning from him, inspired by him. There was no electronic media those days, but many of our college-mates, who did not subscribe to our ideology, would come over to his rallies, just to pick up speaking skills from his oratory," Singh told PTI.

Union minister Harsh Vardhan said he has lost his "mentor and guide" who hand-held him into politics.

He said the Indian scientific community would ever be grateful to Vajpayee who he expanded the 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' slogan to include 'Jai Vigyan' after the Pokhran nuclear test and his courageous decision to go for the second nuclear test was the beginning of an India to reckon with.

Paying tribute to Vajpayee, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said his government is trying to follow the path shown by the former prime minister.

Veteran leader Sharad Yadav said Vajpayee was a great human being whose qualities cannot be explained in words, besides being "a great poet, leader, Parliamentarian and an able Administrator."

Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Vajpayee's affectionate nature was unique to him. "He was crafted by the god with special care," she said.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said he was deeply saddened by the sad demise of Vajpayee who was a great human being and a true statesman. "He never hesitated in giving full credit to his Opposition party leaders whenever due," he said.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan said many people are known by the post, but the post of prime minister was very small in front of Vajpayee.

"He was a great politician, intense speaker, a true diplomat, having clarity in thinking, warrior of social justice and a great nationalist," Paswan tweeted.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "It is a great loss to the country. It was a joy to listen to Atal ji. He cut across ideology, he was a person who had compassion and his belief to take India together is to be remembered. India has become poor in his loss. He has left a deep imprint."

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis described the death as his personal loss and Vajpayee encouraged and taught everyone to serve the last man with the weapon of democracy.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said,"India has lost the tallest leader."

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "It's an end of an era of Indian politics. He wasn't among those to lose battle. He was a fighter," he said.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandra Babu Naidu and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also offered their condolences.

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Aug 17, 2018 18:25 PM

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