Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday paid a moving tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birth anniversary and said the late leader would always be remembered for the art of successfully running a coalition government.
Mr Kumar said he "relished memories of having worked with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a minister holding important portfolios like Railway, Agriculture and Surface Transport and fondly recalled the love he always showered on me, something I would never be able to forget."
"Atal ji shall always be remembered for the role he played in national politics and the manner in which he upheld social harmony. I have personal regard for him. I have worked under his leadership as a minister and received his 'ashirwad' (blessings)," Mr Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised in Patna on the occasion of the 94th birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who died in August this year.
"The positive manner in which he dealt with his alliance partners is a memory to be cherished. Even the dignity with which he treated those in the opposition used to be a sight to behold," Mr Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal (United) said.
"He earned respect from all segments of society. No other politician has been able to match his popularity in the recent past. We have decided to hold a state function every year in his memory. A statue of his will also be placed in Patna, for which a proper spot will be identified," the Chief Minister added.
The function, held at the Sri Krishna Memorial Hall, was attended among others by Governor Lalji Tandon, Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, ministers Nand Kishore Yadav, Mangal Pandey and Vinod Narain Jha and a number of other members of the states bicameral legislature.