Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a titan in Indian politics, was given the highest national send-off today with politicians across the spectrum and foreign dignitaries attending his funeral held with state honours on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi. It was widely reported that he had suffered a stroke in 2009, which had largely confined him to his New Delhi residence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a stream of political leaders cutting across party lines and Union ministers visited the hospital on Thursday.
Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a Hindu nationalist who set off a nuclear arms race with rival Pakistan but later reached across the border to begin a groundbreaking peace process, died Thursday after a long illness. Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee's vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation.
Reacting to the sad development which has shocked the country, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Ex-aide to former PM, said he worked with Kulkarni for 6 years, he treated everyone with respect, he further said that Vajpayee had asserted that the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved constitutionally, and only by the boundaries of humanity.
An excellent orator, a mass leader, a fire power and a sensitive human being, Vajpayee was one of India's tallest leaders and was the first to address United Nations in Hindi, he said. He gave the go-ahead for underground nuclear tests in 1998 believing nuclear weapons would be deterrent against China and Pakistan.
The restraint India showed, Sinha said, paid off internationally, "because every major power afterwards respected India for this very responsible behaviour".
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Facebook, meanwhile, suspended him for 30 days and took down four of his pages, including two for his "Infowars" show. However, neither social media company states how many violations would lead to a permanent ban.
Mr Vajpayee was the first non-Congress leader since India's independence in 1947 to complete an entire term in office as head of a BJP-led ruling alliance between March 1998 and May 2004.
"Madam, I was hurt very much", the then-prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, told a reporter in June 1998.
Vajpayee's body will be taken to his New Delhi home and then to the BJP's office on Friday for people to pay their last respects.
"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at 05.05pm", the AIIMS said in a statement. But critics excoriated him for failing to quickly quell anti-Muslim riots that shook the state of Gujarat in 2002.
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