Interim information minister departs for Vajpayee’s funeral

Interim information minister departs for Vajpayee’s funeral

Tributes have been pouring in for former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has died aged 93.

Vajpayee was also considered one of India's best orators, enabling him to connect with millions of Indians across class and caste divides.

"It was Atal Ji's exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century".

President India Islamic Cultural Centre Sirajuddin Quraishi expressed grief over the demise of ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma, Lok Sabha Deputy Speker M. Thambidurai, former Union Minister A. Raja, MDMK chief Vaiko and TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi were among who witnessed the performance of the last rites.

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The goodwill Vajpayee enjoyed in India's neighbourhood was on full display, as King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, Nepalese Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood, Sri Lanka's acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella and Pakistan's acting Law and Information Minister Ali Zafar arrived in the national capital to pay their homage to the departed leader.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where Mr Vajpayee had been hospitalised for more than two months with a kidney infection and chest congestion, announced his death. According to a notification, which was issued just after his demise.

Modi said Vajpayee's stewardship had put India on a fast track to growth. From there it would be taken to the BJP headquarters tomorrow, where people would be able to pay their last respects.

The panelists on television and political pundits seemed somewhat surprised as people from all sections of society gathered in huge numbers and rushed and jostled each other to shower flower petals on the cortege that was carrying Vajpaye on his final journey. "I have only heard about Vajpayee but if I ever join politics, I want to be like Atal Behari Vajpayee", said a student from St. Stephen's College while speaking to a television reporter. He reminded that Mr Vajpayee had always regretted for not removing chief minister during Gujarat riots.

Mr Vajpayee suffered a stroke in 2009 and retreated from public view.

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