India Inc pays rich tribute to 'reformer' Atal Bihari Vajpayee

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Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted at AIIMS in Delhi a few weeks ago and was put on life support system on Wednesday night.

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who presided over clandestine nuclear tests that confirmed India as a nuclear power but soured relations with rival Pakistan, died Thursday at the age of 93.

He retired from politics in 2005 and suffered a stroke in 2009. A state funeral would be accorded to him and a half day holiday would be observed in all central government offices on Friday.

His second stint as Prime Minister was in 1998 when the National Democratic Alliance again came to power but that lasted for just 13 months. "Between 1999 and 2004, he deftly managed the unwieldy coalition government of fractious partners", it added. In an obituary titled "Nukes and nationalism: Former Indian PM Vajpayee", the writer Yasir Kaneria said, "His ambition to be recognised as a statesman of worldwide stature led him to put his political neck on the line in seeking peace with rival Pakistan".

One of seven children of a schoolteacher, Vajpayee was elected to parliament in 1957. Vajpayee's body was moved late Thursday from a hospital to his Delhi home, where mourners gathered. Subsequently, he developed dementia.

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Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to a schoolteacher, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, and Krishna Devi. He did his MA in political science from DAV College in Kanpur.

In his tribute, BJP president Amit Shah said he was a "rare politician, brilliant speaker, poet and patriot, his demise is not just a irreparable loss for the BJP but also for the entire country".

"A great economic reformer, as a Prime Minister he was always guided by a strong conviction that liberalisation would help us realize our economic potential and ultimately open the doors to becoming a globally competitive, strong and resilient economy", Bharti Enterprises Founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said. My condolences to his family & all his admirers. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter: "Today India lost a great son". In 1942, Vajpayee and his brother were arrested during the Quit India movement, rallying for independence from British rule - which ended five years later.

Vajpayee avoided bedrock nationalist issues, like plans to build a Hindu temple at the site of a demolished north Indian mosque.

In another far-reaching impact of that 2000 visit, Prime Minister Vajpayee had described India and the United States as "natural allies" in a speech at a NY think-tank.

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