Indians gather as former premier Vajpayee is cremated

Minnie Murray
August 17, 2018

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.

According to Indian media, the final procession of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will take place on Friday in the national capital, Delhi at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal at 4pm.

He led the party to its first national electoral victory in 1996, but lasted just 13 days as prime minister before he resigned in the face of a no-confidence motion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several ministers and top BJP leaders were present as Mr Vajpayee's body, in a glass casket draped in the national flag, was carried into the building by soldiers.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb travelled to Delhi on Thursday evening to pay their last respects to the BJP leader.

Vajpayee died at the AIIMS hospital in New Delhi on Thursday at the age of 93, following a prolonged illness.

India and the United States would go on to sign a landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008 under the watch of a different Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in an initiative that President Bush had pushed relentlessly, according to several former U.S. officials. He further said that by creating peace between the two countries, "we can truly recognize the service of Vajpayee".

The body of the BJP veteran has been kept at his official residence - 6A Krishna Menon Marg.

DDU Marg, IP Marg, BSZ Marg (from Tilak Bridge to Delhi Gate), JLN Marg (from Rajghat to Delhi Gate) will also be closed. Those travelling between east and west Delhi can use Vikas Marg, Shahdara Bridge and Wazirabad Bridge to reach Ring Road.

The United States on Thursday joined the world in paying tributes to late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he was among those who "recognized early that India and the U.S. could develop a partnership" for the benefit of the region and the world.

Besides, there will be no any celebration at any government establishments of the state for the next seven days. He went on to launch another phrase that would come to be used widely for describing the India-US relationship during his tenure - "the defining partnership of the 21st century". His condition is "very critical", a statement from the AIIMS says.

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