Sea of mourners join Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral procession

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Earlier Friday, supporters chanting "Long Live Vajpayee!" escorted his body from his home to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where admirers came to pay their last respects.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and BJP president Amit Shah walk together for former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's funeral procession.

Vajpayee was admitted to hospital on June 11 with a kidney tract infection and chest congestion.

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Among others to attend the last rites of Vajpayee, who passed away on Thursday after a prolonged illness, was Nepal's foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Sri Lanka's acting foreign minister Lakshman Kiriella, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and Pakistan's information minister Syed Ali Zafar, according to the Indian foreign ministry.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee speaks during a news conference in the eastern Indian university town of Shantiniketan, northwest of Calcutta April 2, 2004.

The SAARC secretary general also recalled Vajpayee's "grand diplomatic gesture" of taking bus rides to Lahore and Dhaka during his prime ministership.

Reacting to the sad development which has shocked the country, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Ex-aide to former PM, said he worked with Kulkarni for 6 years, he treated everyone with respect, he further said that Vajpayee had asserted that the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved constitutionally, and only by the boundaries of humanity.

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Khan said that Vajpayee started efforts for improving Indo-Pak ties and continued them after becoming prime minister.

France also condoled the death of Vajpayee, saying his name will remain linked to India-French friendship as he shaped the strategic partnership that the two countries share.

Pakistan's government also paid tribute to Vajpayee.

"France offers its condolences to his family as well as the Indian authorities and people", it said.

But in India he was hailed as a hero, and it helped him bolster his image as a leader who was serious about national security and not afraid of worldwide pressure.

In many ways Vajpayee was a complicated figure, a leader of the moderate wing of India's often-strident Hindu nationalist movement and a lifelong poet who oversaw India's growth into a strutting regional economic power.

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