President Kovind, PM Modi pay tributes on Vajpayee's birth anniversary
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday paid tributes to India's former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on his 95th birth anniversary. The President and the PM were joined by several other leaders at the Atal Samadhi Sthal in Delhi on Wednesday morning. Later in the day, PM Modi will unveil a statue of Vajpayee at Lucknow's Lok Bhawan. Here's more.
Along with the members of Vajpayee's family, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, also paid their respects to the former PM. BJP working president JP Nadda, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and senior BJP leader LK Advani also attended the ceremony, where singer Anup Jalota sang prayers in Vajpayee's memory. Modi tweeted a video tribute to Vajpayee, praising the leader's political acumen.
देशवासियों के दिलों में बसे पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री भारत रत्न अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी जी को उनकी जन्म-जयंती पर कोटि-कोटि नमन। pic.twitter.com/9tCkmEUxnf— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 25, 2019
In Vajypayee's honor, the Modi government will launch several public welfare schemes, including the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a Rs. 6,000 crore project focusing on the advancement of groundwater management. Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Atal Bihari Medical University and unveil a 25-ft bronze statue of Vajpayee at Lok Bhawan, Lucknow. Reportedly, the government had sanctioned Rs. 90 lakh for the statue.
On Tuesday, the government had also decided to name the strategic tunnel under Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh, after the former PM. The decision was proposed in August. The tunnel will be named 'Atal Tunnel'.
Born in 1924 in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior, Vajpayee was among the founding members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh —the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party— after serving as an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Known for his oratory skills, Vajpayee served three terms as PM: briefly in 1996, from 1998-1999 and then for a full five-year term between 1999 and 2004.
Vajpayee became a Rajya Sabha MP at 37 and was elected to the Lok Sabha ten times. It was in his tenure that the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted in Rajasthan and the 1999 Kargil War broke. Notably, he was also arrested in 1942 along with his brother during the Quit India movement. Apart from politics, he was also a prominent writer.
After resigning as the PM in 2004, Vajpayee stepped away from politics owing to his health. After a prolonged illness, the veteran leader died on August 16, 2018, at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi.