Former Indian PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies at 93: Live Updates

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Express archive photo by Mohan Bane

New Delhi (05:05PM): Former Indian PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died aged 93 (He died at 5.05 pm today). He was being treated for age-related illnesses in Delhi’s AIIMS hospital. He was one of the founding members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently governs India.

Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the hospital twice in 24 hours and top politicians from across parties arrived as the former prime minister’s health worsened on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today,” the statement by AIIMS said.

LIVE UPDATES

09:38 AM, 17 AUGUST Live Update: Vajpayee’s mortal remains now being shifted to BJP headquarters

Former PM Shri 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. 

09:30 AM, 17 AUGUST Live Update: Railway Recruitment Board exams to go ahead as per schedule

The Railway Recruitment Board exams, scheduled for August 17, for the posts of assistant loco pilots and technicians, will go ahead as per schedule despite the half-day holiday declared for all central government departments in the wake of Vajpayee’s demise. “We are announcing that tomorrow’s (August 17) RRB exam will be conducted in all the three shifts as per schedule. This is being done through the RRB websites. Individual SMS-es are also being sent to about 4.36 lakh candidates,” Rajesh Bajpai, Director, Information and Publicity, Indian Railways, said. 

09:26 AM, 17 AUGUST Live Update: Remembering Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the poet: Former PM’s verses explored matters of the nation and self

Vajpayee’s poetry in his early days as an RSS pracharak was rooted in his identity. But gradually its ambit grew, as it became more political. Inspired by the likes of Ramdhari Dinkar, Vajpayee’s poetry stuck to formalism but became imbued with the kind of potency that challenged establishments. From a rally at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, in 1975, Vajpayee gave a poetic performance so moving, it is said, that it was taken as the cue by Indira Gandhi to wring in the years of Emergency. Vajpayee, of course, continued to write against the regime, during his time in jail as well –finding inspiration even in his disillusionment:

Vahi manzil
Vahi kamara

Vahi khidki
Vahi pahara

Raaj badla
Taaj badla
Par nai
Samaaj badla

12:00AM, 17 August Live Update: RSS leader Madan Das Devi said that Shri Atal ji always wanted that people should not break rules or violate laws but the circumstances were such that it was not possible to implement his suggestions.

11:32PM Live Update: The final procession of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will take place on Friday. Before the journey, his mortal remains will be kept at the BJP headquarters for public to pay their last respects. Keeping in mind the movement, the Delhi Police on Thursday issued a traffic advisory for the national capital.

10:56PM Live Update: MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who earlier owned BPL mobile service company, said that Vajpayee was responsible for opening up the telecom sector and giving policy impetus to expand telecommunication sector in the country. Chandrasekhar said the telecom policy of 1999 released by the NDA government under Vajpayee paved the way for structural reforms in the sector, leading to unprecedented growth of mobile subscribers, introduction of fierce competition into the mobile telephony sector, and deep-rooted reforms in the regulatory regime, which was followed up by the amendment of the TRAI Act in 1999.

10:47 PM Live Update: Vajpayee was shining star on horizon of Indian politics: Sumitra Mahajan. “Such an incredible and invaluable jewel adding to the glory of our motherland has left for heavenly abode today, the precious gem of the crown has left behind a void,” she said

10:30 PM Live Update: Mumbai, Lights of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station (CMST) to remain off today as a mark of respect to the departed soul of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

10:22 PM Live Update: “If we want to remember Atal ji, we should try to absorb some of that civility, inclusiveness into our own discourse and conduct in public life,” says Arun Shourie.

10:15 PM Live Update: Pakistan remembers Vajpayee for his efforts for better Indo-Pak relations. Atal Bihari Vaajpayee was a tall political personality of the subcontinent.His attempts for the betterment of India-Pak relationship will always be remembered. Mr Vajpayee, as a foreign minister, took responsibility of improving India-Pak ties: Pak PM.

10:10 PM Live Update: Chennai: Students participate in a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Chennai, on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

10:05 PM Live Update: British High Commissioner to India, Dominic Asquith, paid rich tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He remembered him as India’s one of the greatest leaders.  “Shri Vajpayee was much respected in the UK as a statesman par excellence,” the British High Commissioner to India said.

10:00 PM Live Update: From the congress side, Sonia Gandhi has also reached late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Delhi residence to pay tributes to the deceased. earlier, she had expressed codolences over Vajpayee’s demise. She remembered him as a “tall figure” in India’s politics. 

09:52 PM Live Update: Former PM Manmohan Singh pays tribute to former Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee at the latter’s residence in the National Capital. Dr Singh has offered condolences to the family of Atal Bihari Vajpayee over his demise. In a letter to Vajpayee’s daughter, Manmohan  remembered him one of the greatest leaders of India.. 

09:18 PM Live Update: Prime minister Narendra Modi remembers late Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a “fatherly figure”. He said that hisVajpayee’s demise has left a void. “Vajpayee ji popularised the idea of Jan Sangh and BJP,” he said. “His values will always be remembered and will continue to inspire us”  Modi said while paying tributes to Vajpayee.

09:05 PM Live Update: Pakistan has expressed grief over the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “We have learnt with sadness the passing away of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” a statement by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. It said that Vajpayee contributed in bringing change in the relations between India and Pakistan and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development.

08:50 PM Live Update: The Union Cabinet has announced a half-day holiday for central government offices and PSUs across the country, and Delhi government offices on Friday in wake of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s last rites, home minister Rajnath Singh announced. The National Flag will fly at half-mast throughout India and Indian missions abroad till August 22. Significantly, Uttar Pradesh has also declared holiday on 17th August. All school, colleges and offices will remain closed, Uttar Pardesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said.  Also, Delhi government announces holiday on August 17 as a mark of respect for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who passed away today.

Moreover, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab have declared holiday on 17th August as a mark of respect for the deceased BJP stalwart and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Following the reports, Madhya Pradesh has also declared state holiday on 17th August. 

08:33 PM: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called a Delhi Trade Bandh on Friday as a mark of respect to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away here today. In a statement, the traders’ body said his demise has sent shock waves among trading community across the country. “CAIT has appealed to the traders of Delhi to close their business establishments and markets tomorrow to pay respects and join the last rites of Atal Ji. It is noteworthy that Atal ji was instrumental in formation of CAIT,” it said.

08:30 PM: Addressing the media outside late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence, BJP chief Amit Shah said that Indian politics’ northern star is lost forever. “Atal ji was a multi-faceted leader. With his death, India has lost an ‘ajatshatru’ leader, literature has lost a sensitive poet, Parliament has lost the voice of the poor and the youth have lost their inspiration,” Amit Shah said.

He said that nobody can fill the void left behind by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “He helped guide the Jan Sangh and then the BJP. Not just the BJP, but the country has suffered an irreparable loss. Atal ji, on various occasions — whether it was standing against the Emergency or raising his voice for Kashmir in the UN or taking a stand during Bangladesh — proved he was a balanced politician​.” Shah said while addressing the media outside late Vajpayee’s Delhi residence.

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: Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Further, Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has cut short his official visit to Uzbekistan,  to return to India and offer his final respects to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He will be landing in New Delhi tonight. Prabhu had landed  this morning for the Inter Governmental Commission on Trade &. Economic cooperation there.

Vajpayee’s mortal remains have reached his Delhi residence at Krishna Menon Marg. Top leaders, including prime minister Narrendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, have reached Vajpayee’s residence to pay last respects.  The body will be taken to BJP’s Dehi headquarters tomorrow morning.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee: Deeply saddened at the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 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.

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu: He was a real ‘Ajatha shatruvu’ (One who has no enemies) who got along with people from all sections. He was the first non-congress PM, an able leader and provided a stable government. He practiced politics of principles and infused values into politics.

“He may be not with us physically but his vision will always be with us, losing a person whom we always looked up to is a personal loss for all of us and I am sure we will always take inspiration from his ideology,”  Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

Moreover, The body of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is being taken to his residence in the national capital where people can pay their last respects, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said. “Vajpayeeji’s body is being taken to his residence where people can pay their last respect,” the home minister told reporters here. Describing former prime minister’s death as a “huge personal loss”, Singh said he was pained beyond words at the demise of Vajpayee, who had cherished the ideal of a developed and powerful India.

Further, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat: Atalji while condoling Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death, said that he embodied Indian culture and values through his strong determination. “It saddens us immensely that he is no longer with us.  Atalji has left a void which will be hard to fill. We pay a homage to him,” Bhagwat said.

Following the demise of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the National Executive meeting of the BJP which was scheduled to be held on August 18-19 has been cancelled. 

Mulayam Singh Yadav has called Vajpayee’s demsie as “a big loss for the country.” “He was a very simple man inspite of being such a senior leader. There was not even a shred of arrogance in him.Current leaders need to learn a lot from him,” .

Meanwhile, Chinese Xinhua News Agency has used George Fernandes’ picture to break the news of Atal Bihari Vajpayee passing away. Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah: Vajpayee Sahib is no more & I feel a personal sense of loss at his passing. Thank you sir for the opportunities, for the trust you reposed in me, for the opportunities to travel with you & to learn from you. You will be greatly missed. Further, Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called Vajpayee’s demise a loss for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP stalwart Vajpayee’s mortal remains are being taken to his Delhi residence from where it will be taken to BJP’s Delhi headquarters. His last rites will be performed at 5 pm tomorrow at Vijayghat. 

Media & Protocol Division – AIIMS, New Delhi

Date: 16-08-2018

Press Release

“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 05:05 pm on 16.08.2018

Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors.

Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today.

We join the nation in deeply mourning this great loss.”

Signed – Dr. (Prof.) Aarti Vij (Chairperson – Media & Protocol Division).

He was a great politician & loved by millions. It’s unimaginable to think that our beloved Atal Ji is no more with us. This is an end of a political era, the void of his absence can never be filled: Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Ken Juster, US Ambassador to India: The US grieves with India on the loss of former Prime Minister #AtalBehariVajpayee. He will be remembered for his immense contribution to bolstering #USIndia relations & for recognizing us as “natural allies.” We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India.

My deepest condolences. Rajinikanth, actor-turned-politician: I’m saddened to hear of the demise of a great statesman Shri Vajpayee ji. May his soul rest in peace.

Considered a giant of Indian politics, he served as prime minister three times between 1996 and 2004 and was instrumental in making India a global nuclear power.

During his second stint as prime minister in 1998, he surprised the world by announcing that India had conducted a series of underground nuclear tests.

  • Obituary: Atal Behari Vajpayee

It was the first time India had carried out nuclear tests since 1974. The experiments had taken place without any warning to the international community, which led to widespread outrage and concern.

But in India he was hailed as a hero, and it helped him bolster his image as a leader who was serious about national security and not afraid of international pressure.

TODAY’S UPDATES

Former Indian PM Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee dies at 93 (05:05PM)

The Union Cabinet has announced a half-day holiday for central government offices and PSUs across the country, and Delhi government offices on Friday in wake of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s last rites, home minister Rajnath Singh announced. The National Flag will fly at half-mast throughout India and Indian missions abroad till August 22.

Karuna Shukla, the niece of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will leave from Raipur for Delhi at 11am and head straight to AIIMS where the former PM is critical and on life support. Among the leaders present at the Delhi hospital right now are Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Prakash Javadekar. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is taking a 2:50pm flight to Delhi to see Vajpayee, while Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are expected to reach the All India Institute of Medical Sciences later.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist, is likely to check in on Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the ICU at 10am, following which the hospital will issue a health bulletin. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is critical and on life-support system. Vajpayee was admitted to the hospital on June 11. A diabetic, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has only one functional kidney and suffered a stroke in 2009 that weakened his cognitive abilities.

Aug 16, 2018 9:12 am (IST)

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s condition continues to be critical as a bulletin is expected shortly from the AIIMS where he has been admitted for the last nine weeks. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s condition has worsened over the last 24 hours. His condition is critical and he is on life support system,” said the last statement issued by AIIMS late on Wednesday. On Wednesday, a host of political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to enquire about Vajpayee’s health.

On Thursday, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu visited the 93-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, who had been the Prime Minister for three terms. Vajpayee, a diabetic patient, is undergoing treatment at AIIMS since June 11. He was admitted to the hospital for what doctors described as a routine check-up. The 1924-born leader is under the supervision of Dr Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist and currently the Director of AIIMS. Guleria has served as personal physician to Vajpayee for over three decades. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP National President Amit Shah had visited Vajpayee on Saturday.

A portrait of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had once gone missing from the South Block in the late 70s, but it was restored following the intervention of the then foreign minister, Atal Bihari Vaypayee. Vajpayee had shared this anecdote in a speech in Parliament and also praised Nehru for his ability to take criticism from others. “Friends in Congress may not believe this, but a portrait of Nehru would hang in South Block. I would see it whenever I passed by,” he had said in his speech. Vajpayee also said that there used to be sparring with Nehruji in Parliament. “At that time, I was new, and would sit back in the House. Sometime to get an opportunity to speak, I also would have to stage a walk out,” he had recalled. “Then I made a place for myself, and moved ahead. And, when I became the foreign minister, I saw that the portrait was missing from the gallery,” he said. Vajpayee, who died at the AIIMS today after prolonged illness, was the foreign minister from March 1977 to July 1979 in the Morarji Desai government.

In a circular, the home ministry also said national flag would be flown at half mast from today for seven days across India and a state funeral would be accorded to Vajpayee. Several state governments have also announced a holiday in schools, colleges and government offices Friday.

Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh has offered condolences to the family of Atal Bihari Vajpayee over his demise. In a letter to Vajpayee’s daughter, Manmohan  remembered him one of the greatest leaders of India..

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister briefly in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004 but had retreated from active politics over the last decade due to failing health. Born in 1924, he entered politics during the Quit India movement in 1942. Vajpayee was elected to Lok Sabha from Lucknow in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. Vajpayee was also the first external affairs minister to deliver a speech in the UN General Assembly in Hindi.

Deeply saddened to hear the demise of former prime minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji: Trilok Singh.

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