India's three-time prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee dead at 93

Clay Curtis
August 17, 2018

After nearly two months of hospitalisation at Delhi's AIIMS hospital, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has passed away.

Notably, Vajpayee breathed his last while undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Despite the best efforts, we have lost him today. His condition worsened, eventually becoming fatal.

In May 1998, just weeks into his second spell as prime minister, Mr Vajpayee ordered nuclear tests in the Rajasthan desert, which caught the global community off guard and prompted sanctions.

Vajpayee never married but had a longtime companion who died in 2014 and whose daughter he adopted. "He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread the BJP's message, which led to the BJP becoming a strong force in our national polity and in several states".

The claim appeared ironical against the backdrop of Modi's Independence Day address the day before, where he suggested that India began its climb to greatness in the past four years after six decades of darkness.

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

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Born in December 1924, Vajpayee grew up in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and was one of the founders of the Janata Party, a splinter group of which became the modern BJP.

Shah said the "golden chapter of development got started" during Vajpayee's term as Prime Minister. His first government collapsed in less than three weeks in 1996, and while he took power again in 1998, this only last 13 months before a disagreement within the ruling coalition sparked new elections.

Friday was declared a mourning holiday in the capital region of New Delhi.

Then, a few years later, it was Mr Vajpayee who made the first moves toward peace. In June 1999, Pakistan's hostilities in Kargil pushed both countries to the brink of a full-scale war. "Vajpayeeji was a great statesman and he proved his ability both on national and global level, by improving our relationship with all the countries, especially with our neighbouring countries", he said.

The deputy prime minister in the Vajpayee government said he will miss him immensely.

A onetime journalist, Mr Vajpayee was in many ways a political contradiction.

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