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Tributes pour in for late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 98th birth anniversary

New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among the prominent personalities to pay glowing tributes to late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 98th birth anniversary on Sunday.

Vajpayee led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power at the Centre in the 1990s and was the prime minister for six years. Born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee’s birthday is also observed as “Good Governance Day”.

“Tributes to Atal Ji on his Jayanti. His contribution to India is indelible. His leadership and vision motivate millions of people,” Modi said in a tweet.

The prime minister visited “Sadaiv Atal”, Vajpayee’s memorial in New Delhi, to pay his respects to the late leader.

Modi also paid tributes to Vajpayee in his last “Mann ki Baat” radio broadcast of the year, hailing the former prime minister as a great statesman who gave exceptional leadership to the country.

President Murmu visited Vajpayee’s memorial. She also inaugurated a photo exhibition on the former prime minister and attended a “Bhajan Sandhya” at the Dr Ambedkar International Centre here.

Vice President Dhankhar paid homage to the late leader at “Sadaiv Atal”.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla remembered the former prime minister as a leader under whom the country achieved unprecedented progress in areas such as infrastructure and nuclear power.

He also told the gathering at a function to mark Good Governance Day that Vajpayee’s decisive leadership was on display during the 1999 Kargil war.

“The country developed in every field, from nuclear power to infrastructure development and telecom revolution, administrative reforms to rural development due to Atalji’s vision and decisive leadership,” the speaker said.

Earlier, Birla, along with Modi and other dignitaries, offered floral tributes at Vajpayee’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Vajpayee’s patriotism, dutifulness and dedication will always inspire everyone to serve the nation.

Shah visited Vajpayee’s memorial in the national capital and offered floral tributes.

“Atalji’s patriotism, dutifulness and dedication will always inspire us to serve the nation,” he said.

The home minister said Vajpayee’s life was dedicated to taking the country back to its ultimate glory.

“By laying the foundation of a new era of development and good governance under his leadership, Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the world aware of India’s potential and instilled a sense of national pride in the public. Today, on his birth anniversary, I pay my respects to Atalji,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Vajpayee rose above party lines and was respected by all.

“His journey of six decades in public life has been without any stain. Politics without principles can have no place in social life. He never compromised with values and ideals,” Adityanath said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid a moving tribute to Vajpayee, asserting that he could “never forget” the mentorship of the late leader, who had showered “so much love and affection” on him.

“I have deep respect for Atalji, a reason why we have been observing a state function on his birth anniversary. As an MP, I always used to listen to all his speeches attentively. Then I had the privilege of being a minister in his cabinet with three portfolios,” Kumar told reporters in Patna.

“He used to shower so much love and affection on me. All proposals from me used to receive his quick approval. I cannot forget all that,” said the Janata Dal (United) leader who snapped ties with the BJP in August, charging the current leadership of the saffron party with lacking the magnanimity that characterised the Vajpayee era.

Various other leaders, including Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Singh Tomar, Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Arjun Ram Meghwal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BJP chief J P Nadda, paid their tributes to the late leader on his birth anniversary.

Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government has allotted 4,050 hectares of land to build a memorial of Vajpayee at his birthplace Gwalior, an official said on Sunday.

In accordance with a proposal submitted by the district collector, land measuring about 4,050 hectares has been allotted for building a memorial of Vajpayee in the Sirol area, Gwalior’s Divisional Commissioner Deepak Singh said.

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