New Delhi: Marking an end of an era in Indian politics, former Prime Minister and the founding president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday breathed his last at the All India Institute for medical Sciences.
He was 93.
"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 1705 hours on August 16, Thursday," AIIMS said in a bulletin.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of the veteran leader, who was ailing for sometime.
"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," President tweeted.
In his missive in the micro blogging site, Mr Modi said, "Atal Ji's passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me".
"It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick. He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread the BJP's message, which led to the BJP becoming a strong force in our national polity and in several states," Prime Minister tweeted.
In moist eyes, Vajpayee's longtime lieutenant and cabinet colleague, M M Joshi said his demise
will be felt for long time.
Born on the Christmas Day, 1924, at Gwalior to a school teacher Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, his baptism into politics had come as a student when he came in contact with the RSS founder Keshavrao Hedgewar and later became a RSS 'swayemsevak'.
First sworn in as Prime Minister on May 16, 1996, Vajpayee had to resign only after 13 days. But as promised by him in Lok Sabha on May 27, 1996 debate, Vajpayee returned to the coveted office on March 19, 1998 and continued there till May 2004
Vajpayee, a genius orator was a poetic and persuasive with his characteristic humourous style.
"One big difference between Vajpayee and me was his sense of humour. It always gave me complex....Unke samne mein ek rukha-sukha admi raha (Contrast to his humour, I was always dry)," BJP patriarch L K Advani has said in 2014 when the Modi government had announced conferring of country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.