Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who ordered nuclear tests to make India a nuclear weapons power and traveled by bus to Pakistan in a grand diplomatic gesture, died on Thursday, the hospital where he was admitted said in a statement.
According to Indian media, Vajpayee was admitted to All India Institute of Medical and Sciences (AIIMS) on August 11.
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 05:05pm on 16.08.2018,” said AIIMS in a medical bulletin.
“Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today. We join the Nation in deeply mourning this great loss,” AIIMS added.
“Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me,” current Indian PM Narendra Modi said in a tweet.
“It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century.”
A poet-politician, Vajpayee was one of the most popular leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. He was 93.
But unlike Modi, who critics say is a polarizing figure despite his pledge of inclusive development for India’s 1.3 billion people, Vajpayee was the moderate face of Hindu nationalism, admired by some political foes.