Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the First Indian to Address UN Assembly in Hindi, Passes Away at 93
In addition to being a politician and a diplomat, Vajpayee was known for his poetry.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
New Delhi: Former prime minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee breathed his last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Thursday.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away aged 93. Follow Live Updates here.
The condition of the 93-year-old leader, who was admitted to AIIMS since June 11, deteriorated in the last 24 hours. Vajpayee was a diabetic and had one functional kidney. He suffered a stroke in 2009 that weakened his cognitive abilities and he subsequently developed dementia.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior, the BJP patriarch was a Member of Parliament since 1957 till the end of 2005. The saffron party website calls him the “first and the only person since Jawaharlal Nehru to occupy the office of the Prime Minister of India through three successive Lok Sabhas”. He held the prime ministerial post from May 16-31, 1996, and then again for from March 19, 1998, to May 13, 2004.
Vajpayee became the first prime minister since Indira Gandhi to “lead his party to victory in successive elections”. He was the only MP “elected from four different states at different times – Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi”.
A master orator, he was the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. Vajpayee is also remembered as the first external affairs minister who addressed the United Nations Assembly in Hindi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often referred to Vajpayee as his mentor, repeatedly promised in speeches to live up to the high standards of governance set by him.
In addition to being a politician and a diplomat, Vajpayee was known for his poetry. His friends and political foes often praised him for his ability to reach out to opponents. The testament to Vajpayee’s stature was former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s speech in the Rajya Sabha where he referred to the BJP stalwart as the ‘Bhishma Pitamah’ of the country's politics.
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