Opposition leaders remember Vajpayee as statesman, great son of India

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Opposition leaders, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and chief ministers of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi on Thursday condoled the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, describing him a great son of India, a statesman and one of country’s tallest leaders.

Gandhi said in a tweet that Vajpayee was loved and respected by millions of people and he will be missed.

“Today, India lost a great son. Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, was loved and respected by millions. My condolences to his family and all his admirers. We will miss him,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi had earlier in the day visited Vajpayee at AIIMS where he was being treated.

Manmohan Singh, in his message, said that Vajpayee stood among the “tallest leaders” of modern India and spent his whole life serving the country.

“I have learnt with profound sorrow about the sad demise of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji. An excellent orator, an impressive poet, an exceptional public servant, an outstanding parliamentarian and a great Prime Minister, Vajpayeeji stood among the tallest leaders of modern India, who spent his whole life serving our great country,” Singh said.

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“His services to our nation will be remembered for a long time to come,” he added.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Vajpayee’s death was a very big loss to the nation.

“Very very saddened that the great statesman and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji is no more with us. His passing away is a very big loss to our nation. I will always cherish many fond memories with him. Condolences to his family and his many admirers,” Banerjee said in a tweet.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he was deeply grieved by the demise of Vajpayee and noted that he was loved by people of Odisha.

“He was one of the tallest leaders of the country. He was much loved by the people of India and more so by the people of Odisha. May his soul rest in peace,” Patnaik said in a tweet. He attached a video of his pictures with Vajpayee.

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu said India has lost one of its greatest visionaries.

“We have lost one of the greatest visionaries the nation has seen, on this unfortunate day. The beloved former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji will continue to inspire us and the generations to come. May he rest in peace,” Naidu said in a tweet.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Vajpayee’s death was a great loss for the country.

“Am deeply saddened. A great loss for India,” he said in a tweet.

Kejriwal had visited AIIMS along with his deputy Manish Sisodia to enquire about the health of Vajpayee.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad described Vajpayee as a great human being and “true statesman”.

Azad said that Vajpayee never hesitated in giving full credit to his opposition party leaders whenever due. “I distinctly remember when he praised then Prime Minister Late Indira Gandhi after Indo-Pak war of 1971 and referred to her as ‘Durga’,” Azad said.

The Congress leader said he had very happy memories of Vajpayee and his death was a big personal loss.

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“He will be greatly remembered for his prolific oratory skills, statesmanship, his relationship with leaders of other parties and outstanding contribution towards public service besides many other qualities,” Azad said.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge said India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had predicted that Vajpayee would become the Prime Minister in the future and he rose to the post.

Kharge said that Vajpayee was “Ajatshatru” who never made any enemies. “Though our ideologies were different, we used to go to listen to his speeches to know what he had to say.”

Congress treasurer Motilal Vora said Vajpayee commanded equal respect from his party and the opposition.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Indian political landscape has lost a stalwart and a statesman.

Vajpayee, a founder member of the BJP and the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in office, died in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 93.



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