New Delhi, August 16:
Former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, the hospital said on Thursday. He was 93. The three-time prime minister was admitted to the hospital on 11 June this year in a critical condition and had been at the facility since then. Vajpayee was suffering from urinary tract infection, lower respiratory tract infection and kidney problems.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been admitted for the last nine weeks at AIIMS. His condition has worsened over the last 24 hours,” a press statement issued by AIIMS on Wednesday said. “His condition is critical and he is on life support system,” it further said.
Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, was taking care of Vajpayee’s health. A team of eight doctors was actively involved in his treatment.
Several politicians had visited the hospital to enquire about the BJP stalwart’s health. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited AIIMS to enquire about ailing leader”s health condition on Wednesday. On Thursday, L.K. Advani, Shahnawaz Hussain, Prakash Javadekar were among those who visited the hospital.
The former prime minister was admitted in the CN Tower in AIIMS with tight security in the hospital premises. Due to VIP movement in and around the hospital, traffic around AIIMS has also been suffering since morning.
The 93-year-old BJP leader was the oldest living former Indian prime minister. Vajpayee had undergone knee replacement surgery at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai in 2001 and suffered a stroke in 2009 that impaired his speech. He was also suffering from diabetes and dementia.
A founding member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a parliamentarian for four decades, Vajpayee is the first non-Congress leader to have completed a five-year term (1999-2004) as India’s prime minister.
During his second term, from 1998 to 1999, India conducted the second Pokhran nuclear tests (May 1998) and Vajpayee attended the Lahore summit (February 1999) where he travelled to Pakistan in a bus for establishing full-fledged diplomatic relations with the country. That, however, wasn’t to be as India and Pakistan soon fought the Kargil War (1999).
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance returned to power in the aftermath of the Kargil war with 303 seats in the Lok Sabha, and Vajpayee was chosen prime minister again.
Vajpayee never married and has an adopted daughter, Namita.