BJP leaders greet Vajpayee on his 87th birthday

test sharma | Updated: December 25, 2011, 8:08 AM IST

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister and one of the most popular and charismatic political leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee will celebrate his 87th birthday on Sunday.

The BJP leaders visited Vajpayee's residence with bouquets and gave their good wishes to him.

Vajpayee has not been keeping well for sometime now and did not contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

No one, not even leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are willing to talk publicly about Vajpayee's health. But those who have access to him are unanimous that he is seriously unwell.

Besides dementia, or gradual deterioration of memory and mental functions, the veteran leader, who was three-time prime minister, is known to be a long-term diabetic. He also has age-related illness.

When he was prime minister, Vajpayee underwent knee replacement surgery at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai in 2001.

At one time, he used to get into aircraft and deboard with the help of a special lift.

One of the founder leaders of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the BJP's predecessor, Vajpayee was India's foreign minister when the Janata Party took power in 1977.

He was prime minister for 13 days in 1996, then for 13 months from March 1998 onwards and presided over the country for a third time from October 1999 to May 2004, when the Congress ousted the BJP. He did not contest the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

Even his political foes consider him one of India's most experienced politicians with a mass base spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Vajpayee's long-term colleague and BJP veteran LK Advani said recently that he missed Vajpayee.

Advani recalled his long association with Vajpayee at a rally in New Delhi on November 20.

BJP members are looking forward to a birthday 'darshan' of Vajpayee and many plan to use his name and put his picture on billboards to draw votes.

With Additional Inputs From Agencies

First Published: December 25, 2011, 8:08 AM IST

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