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India’s three-time prime minister Vajpayee dies at 93

India’s three-time prime minister Vajpayee dies at 93

India Inc today 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.

Ninety-three-year-old Vajpayee has been hospitalized for more than two months after being admitted for treatment of a kidney infection and chest congestion.

He retired from politics in 2005 and suffered a stroke in 2009.

In an editorial titled, "Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP's Moderate Face Dies', "Vajpayee's death brings into sharp focus the contrast with the harsh and strident version of that ideology which the party now exercises with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah".

He was the prime minister who ordered nuclear tests in 1998, stoking fears of atomic war between India and Pakistan. He sparked an arms race with Pakistan, but later launched peace talks and a cross-border bus service between Lahore and Delhi.

Vajpayee served as prime minister briefly in 1996 then again from 1998 to 2004. "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.

Vajpayee had only one functional kidney. "Weeks into his second stint as prime minister, Vajpayee shocked the world in May 1998 with five underground nuclear tests, prompting global sanctions, rattling neighbors and setting off an arms race with archrival Pakistan".




Vajpayee boosted trade with the United States, and he helped organize a 2000 visit to Delhi by President Bill Clinton, the first American president to visit India since Jimmy Carter did so in 1978.

He said Vajpayee's death has created a vacuum in the region's political arena. The body would then be taken to the BJP headquarters at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg at around 9 am, he told reporters.

Modi's government presented Vajpayee as an icon, seeking inspiration from his political career and cashing in on his stature and popularity as a statesman acceptable across political divides.

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

Several roads in the national capital are closed for the public in view of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral, the Delhi Traffic Police said today.

He was conferred India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of India in 2014.

Vajpayee, 93, passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here last evening after a prolonged illness.


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