- His death a personal loss, PM Narendra Modi said
- It was the "end of an era", PM Modi said
- He "set foundations for a strong, prosperous India", the PM said
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a father-figure for him and the death of the former Prime Minister was a personal loss for him. Mr Vajpayee died in Delhi on Thursday after a long illness. In a series of tweets shortly after, PM Modi said it was the "end of an era" and Mr Vajpayee, through his "exemplary leadership", had "set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century".
In a video message later in the evening, the Prime Minister said Atal Bihari Vajpayee's death was an "irreparable loss for the nation".
"He was a leader, orator, journalist, statesman and more than anything a true son of India... Atal-ji may have gone, but his ideas, views, simplicity will always inspire us Indians," he said.
Underscoring the deeper loss, the Prime Minister said, "For me, personally, it is like losing a father... Whenever he met me, he used to embrace me like a father".
Since Mr Vajpayee's hospitalisation in Delhi on June 11, PM Modi had come to visit him at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences five times. The last two times was within the last 24 hours, after the doctors declared that Mr Vajpayee's condition was critical and he was on life support systems.
On Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister stayed at the hospital for 50 minutes. On Thursday, he rushed back around 2 pm, and stayed for around 45 minutes. A little after 5 pm, Mr Vajpayee died.
In his first reaction after Mr Vajpayee's death, a deeply emotional tweet in Hindi from the Prime Minister read, "I'm speechless, I feel a great void, yet I'm overcome by emotions".
In a blog later, the Prime Minister wrote, "In times of turbulence and disruption, a nation is blessed to have a leader who rises to become its moral compass and guiding spirit, providing vision, cohesion and direction to his people. And, in such a moment at the turn of the century, India found one in Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was gifted in spirit, heart and mind".
Mr Vajpayee, who led the country for 13 days in 1996, 13 months in 1998 and for five years from 1999, had retired from public life over the last few years due to his failing health.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.