World leaders pay tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee

World leaders pay tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a galaxy of political leaders cutting across party lines and foreign dignitaries joined the rest of the nation in bidding adieu to the departed leader at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, a designated spot for the last rites of Presidents, Vice Presidents and Prime Ministers, on the banks of Yamuna river. Among prominent Union Ministers and politicians, former PM Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President Amit Shah, senior BJP leader LK Advani, Congress President Rahul Gandhi were present at the funeral site. Heavy security was deployed along the route. Scores of people gathered at Smriti Sthal to pay their respects to the tall leader, who was cremated with full state honours. Vajpayee died at AIIMS hospital in the national capital on Thursday.

"As foreign minister, Vajpayee strived to open up ways towards normalisation of relations among neighboring states and had successfully taken this agenda to new heights after assuming the office of prime minister", he said.

The PTI chief stated that there could be political differences between the two countries, however, the desire to establish peace existed on both sides of the border.

"Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development", the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Pakistan's government also paid tribute to Vajpayee.

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Describing former prime minister's death as a "huge personal loss", Singh said he was pained beyond words at the demise of Vajpayee, who had cherished the ideal of a developed and powerful India.

"Heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of India on the passing of #AtalBihariVajpayee". "Poet, politician, visionary, he left his mark on India's history. I wanted to pay my respects to a man of that stature".

He was the moderate leader of an often-strident Hindu nationalist movement.

Vajpayee served three times as India's prime minister; for 13 days in 1996, for 13 months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1999 to 2004.

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