Former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who ordered nuclear tests to make India a nuclear weapons power and travelled by bus to Pakistan in a grand diplomatic gesture, died on Thursday, the hospital where he was being treated said in a statement.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where Mr Vajpayee had been hospitalised for more than two months with a kidney infection and chest congestion, announced his death. The three-time prime minister has been ailing since he suffered a stroke in 2009. Among the key leaders who paid their tributes were President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Minister Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and BJP President Amit Shah.
He was a key figure in the development of India's nuclear programme, ordering weapons tests in 1998, which stoked fears of an atomic war with neighouring Pakistan, which also tested a nuclear device in response.
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The US secretary then said, "The American people and I stand with the people of India as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee's passing".
Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee's vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation. He said the BJP patriarch lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades, while noting that it was Vajpayee's exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. He had quoted Vajpayee in the context of peace in Kashmir.
In the days after the riots, Vajpayee said he could not understand how Hindus could burn women and children alive, sadly asking a group of Muslim survivors: "Have we lost our way so much that we cease to be humans?" "His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India", Modi tweeted Thursday. He was admitted to Delhi's AIIMS in June.
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State mourning for seven days till 22 August. He will be remembered for his huge contribution to bolstering #USIndia relations & for recognizing us as "natural allies".
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