Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP’s gentle colossus, fades away

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the only non-Congress leader to have completed a full term as Prime Minister, breathed his last at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on Thursday evening. The 12-time Parliamentarian was 93.

Mr. Vajpayee was admitted to the AIIMS on June 11 with a kidney tract infection and chest congestion. The BJP leader, who was diabetic with one functional kidney, suffered a stroke in 2009, weakening his cognitive abilities.

Mr. Vajpayee was Prime Minister thrice in 1996, 1998-1999 and 1999-2004. As his health deteriorated, he slowly withdrew himself from public life and was confined to his residence for several years.

In his condolence message, President Ram Nath Kovind stated, “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.”

Condoling his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades.”

Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Mr. Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States, the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, and was twice the member of the Rajya Sabha.

As one of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, Mr. Vajpayee became its president in 1968 upon the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya.

As his parliamentary career flourished, Mr. Vajpayee made a name for himself as an orator and with his poetic flourishes. His poetry was collated in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems).

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