Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at 93 on Thursday, Narendra Modi confirmed on Twitter.
India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji.
His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 16, 2018
Vajpayee had been hospitalised in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for more than two months after being admitted for treatment of a kidney infection and chest congestion. He had suffered a stroke in 2009.
Vajpayee, who was elected as Indian premier thrice, was a Hindu nationalist who was seen as a skilled politician by his supporters. A former journalist and poet-turned-politician, Vajpayee is credited with helping lay the foundations for the meteoric rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the political powerhouse that rules India today.
In 1998 he ordered nuclear weapons tests that stoked fears of atomic war with Pakistan but he later launched a groundbreaking peace process with Islamabad.Critics accused him and his party of stoking public fears of India’s large Muslim minority. Both sides agreed he was that most rare thing in Indian politics: a man untainted by corruption scandals.
In 2014, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, by current premier Modi.
The Indian prime minister had visited him on Wednesday night and Vice-President Venkiah Naidu on Thursday.
“India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji,” Modi said. “His passing away marks the end of an era.”