New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid floral tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 95th birth anniversary at the ‘Sadaiv Atal’ memorial in Delhi on Wednesday morning. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP working president JP Nadd, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and senior BJP leader LK Advani were among those present and paid their obeisances to Vajpayee.
Singer Anup Jalota was on stage. In his soulful voice, he sang prayers in memory of BJP stalwart, late Vajpayee. Earlier today, Modi extended his birthday greetings to Vajpayee. “A tribute to former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji on his birth anniversary, present in the hearts of the people,” he tweeted and posted a video having snapshots of him and the former prime minister.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior, Vajpayee was an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He was among the founding members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Known for his eloquent oratorical skills, he was a member of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, representing Lucknow from the Lower House from 1991 to 2009. Vajpayee was one of the several leaders who were jailed during the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
The veteran leader, who led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 1998-2004, was the first-ever person from the BJP to become the Prime Minister. He served as Prime Minister thrice — briefly in 1996, from 1998-1999 and then for a full five-year term between 1999 and 2004.
During his tenure, India had carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in Rajasthan in 1998 and the Kargil War between India and Pakistan had broken out in 1999. Apart from politics, Vajpayee was a prominent writer and has penned a number of poems. After resigning as the prime minister in 2004, the BJP stalwart retired from active politics owing to his feeble health.
In 2015, Vajpayee was bestowed with Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civil honour. The veteran BJP leader passed away on August 16, 2018, at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi following a prolonged illness. December 25 is celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ in honour of Vajpayee. Later today, Modi will unveil a statue of Vajpayee at Lok Bhawan in Lucknow.