ATAL Bihari Vajpayee, Statesman Among Indian Politicians, Is No more

ATAL Bihari Vajpayee, three-time Prime Minister and a towering politician admired and respected by people across party lines in  India and overseas,  died in Delhi at 17: 05 HRS  IST  on Thursday. He was 93. His health turned critical on Tuesday and doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences had to put him on life support. He was admitted in AIIMS on June 11 with infection in kidneys and urinary tract and chest congestion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, several Chief Ministers and other prominent leaders had visited the AIIMS to enquire about his health. He was under treatment of a team of doctors headed by Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist and currently the Director of AIIMS.​ Guleria had served the ex-Prime Minister as personal physician for over three decades. A team of doctors from the nephrology, gastroenterology, Pulmonology and cardiology departments looked after Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the in the hospital for the last nine weeks. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called him the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics in 2008  urging him to rise above party politics and support the Indo-US nuclear deal. Vajpayee had slowly withdrawn himself from public life and rarely moved out of his home on New Delhi’s Krishna Menon Marg due to poor health .He was a diabetic and suffered a stroke in 2009 that weakened his cognitive abilities.

He was PM first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1998 to 2004. Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in ex-princely state of Gwalior. His grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, had migrated to Morena near Gwalior from his ancestral village of Bateshwar in Uttar Pradesh. His father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, was a poet and a schoolmaster in his hometown. His father was   promoted as the Inspector of Schools and later Director. Vajpayee did his schooling from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gorkhi, Bara at Gwalior. Vajpayee attended Gwalior’s Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College) and graduated with distinction in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He completed his post-graduation with an M.A. in Political Science from DAV College in Kanpur with a first-class degree. .He was elected to the Lok Sabha ten times and twice to the Rajya Sabha. He had represented Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, until 2009 when he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Vajpayee was among the founding members of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh which he also headed from 1968 to 1972. He was Minister for  External Affairs in the  Council of  Ministers  headed by  Morarji Desai.Representing India  as the External Affairs Minister ,he had  delivered  speech in Hindi  in the  United  Nations in 1977.After the Janata government collapsed, Vajpayee restructured the Jana Sangh along  with  Lal Krishna  Advani and  others  into the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. He was the first Indian prime minister not belonging to the Indian National Congress to have completed five-year term. At age 93, Vajpayee was the oldest living former Indian Prime Minister. Vajpayee, who was an unparallel orator, scholar and had a bend of poetic mind, was conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of India in 2014. It was declared by the Modi government in 2014 that Vajpayee’s birthday, 25 December, would be marked as Good Governance Day. His live-in partner Krishna Kaul passed away in 2014.Namita Bhattacharjee is his foster daughter. Her husband Ranjan Bhattacharjee.  Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee says he is deeply saddened at the passing away of  Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was a reasoned critique in opposition and a seeker of consensus as PM. Vajpayee   was a democrat to the core. In his passing away, India has lost a great son and an era has come to an end, Pranab Mukherjee added.His  body  was taken to his  residence and  will  be laid  to  rest on Friday in Vijay Ghat near  Rajghat in Delhi.

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