Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died on Thursday after a prolonged illness. He was 93. Vajpayee was under treatment at All India Institute of Medical Science.
In its press release, AIIMS said, “It is with profound grief that we inform you about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at 5.05 pm on 16.08.2018.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “I have no words, I am filled with emotions right now.Our respected Atal ji is no more. Every moment of his life he had dedicated to the nation.” Prime Minister Ram Nath Kovind tweeted, “Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all.”
Vajpayee, a diabetic patient, was undergoing treatment at AIIMS since 11 June. He was admitted to the hospital for what doctors described as a routine check-up.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited AIIMS twice in as many days. His visit to AIIMS had followed similar visits by other cabinet colleagues of Modi including Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal.
Leaders cutting across party lines had wished speedy recovery for the veteran BJP leader. Among them were Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal had cancelled his birthday celebrations on Thursday in view of the deteriorating health of Vajpayee.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi too visited AIIMS on Thursday to inquire about Vajpayee’s health.
The 1924-born leader was kept under the supervision of Dr Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist and currently the Director of AIIMS. Guleria has served as personal physician to Vajpayee for over three decades.
Hashtag #AtalBihariVajpayee remained the top trend nationally on Twitter for two days as the nation prayed for the recovery of the former prime minister. However, Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy and several pro-government channels namely India TV, DD News and Times Now flashed the news of his death on Thursday afternoon, only to retract the news later.
Doctors at AIIMS on Wednesday had said that Vajpayee’s condition worsened over the before he was put on life support system.
A statement from AIIMS had said, “Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been admitted for the last nine weeks at AIIMS. Unfortunately, his condition has worsened over the last 24 hours. His condition is critical and he is on life support system.” A second medical bulletin on Thursday too had said that there was no change in his condition.