On the morning of 17 August, Vajpayee’s body draped with the Indian flag was taken to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where party workers paid their tributes till 1 PM. Later that afternoon at 4 PM, Vajpayee was cremated with full state honours at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal near Raj Ghat. His pyre was lit by his foster daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya. Thousands of people and many dignitaries attended his funeral procession including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind. On 19 August, his ashes were immersed in the Ganga river in Haridwar by his daughter Namita.
India reacted to Vajpayee’s death with grief and thousands of tributes poured in through social media platforms. Thousands of people paid their respect during his funeral procession. Vajpayee will be remembered as a guardian for the BJP and various other political parties in India. A seven-day state mourning was announced by the central government throughout India. The national flag flew half-mast during this period.
Vajpayee’s personality and political career is a guiding force for the nation. He had this firm belief that the nation is more important than the party, and the party is more important than the individual. He also held the conviction that trust begets trust and that politics must be people-oriented and not power-oriented.
As every Indian paid rich tributes to the Ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, condolences also poured in from across the globe. His demise was widely covered by foreign country and media too –
Afghanistan: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was among several foreign dignitaries present at former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral in New Delhi. He recalled that the departed leader was “the first to offer us civilian planes, Airbuses at the time we were starting out”.
Bangladesh: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed “deep shock” at the demise of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said it is a day of great sadness for the people of Bangladesh. Paying tribute to Vajpayee, Hasina termed him as “one of the most famous sons of India” and a highly respected person in Bangladesh.
Bhutan: Bhutan king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck too attended the funeral ceremony in New Delhi.
China: In a statement, the ministry of foreign affairs said that the Indian leader was an “outstanding Indian statesman and had made outstanding contributions to the development of Sino-Indian relations”.
“China expresses its deep condolences on his death and sincere condolences to the Indian government and people and the relatives of Mr Vajpayee. Premier Li Keqiang has sent a condolence message to the leaders of India,” the statement said.
Japan: Remembering Vajpayee’s visit to Japan in 2001, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said, “On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I would like to convey my sincerest condolences to the Government and people of India and the bereaved family.” Terming Vajpayee as an eminent leader of India, Abe added, “I pray from the bottom of my heart that his soul may rest in peace”.
Mauritius: On 17 August, the government of Mauritius announced that both Mauritian and Indian flags would fly at half-mast in honour of Vajpayee. During the World Hindi Conference in Mauritius, PM Pravind Jugnauth announced that the cyber tower towards which Vajpayee contributed to be set up in Mauritius would be henceforth named as Atal Bihari Vajpayee tower.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s interim Minister for Law and Information, Syed Ali Zafar met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and extended Pakistan’s condolence on the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Zafar was among the foreign dignitaries who attended Vajpayee’s funeral in New Delhi. Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf mourned the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, calling him a great man. He said that Vajpayee’s demise was a great loss for both India as well as Pakistan.
Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolence to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demise of Vajpayee. Putin termed the former prime minister as an “outstanding statesman”. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee rightly commanded great respect around the world,” he said.
Sri Lanka: In a tweet, President Maithripala Sirisena said, “Today, we have lost a great humanist and a true friend of Sri Lanka. Former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a visionary leader and an ardent defender of democracy. My condolences to his family and millions of his admirers around the world”. Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan said India has lost one of its “most regarded intellectual and statesman”.
United States: U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Vajpayee recognised early that the US-India partnership would contribute to the world’s economic prosperity and security and the two democracies continue to benefit from his vision. “On behalf of the people of the United States of America, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of India on the recent passing of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee”, Pompeo said in a statement.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee enjoyed due respect in India and globally for his tireless work for the welfare of the people of India, which will continue to inspire future generations of leaders. Former-Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh called him the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Politics. With his death, a vacuum has been created in polity and resulted in the end of an era of politics in this country. His hard work towards acceleration of inclusive economic growth in India will be remembered for ever.
• Nuclear tests conducted in 1998 during his reign unambiguously established India as a nuclear state and the country was able to develop a minimum credible deterrent to ward off threats to its security.
• The National Highways Develop Project (NHDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) were two projects that were very close to his heart. NHDP involves connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. PMGSY is a nationwide plan to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages.
• He is highly respected for the economic reforms and privatization policies he brought about during his tenure as the Prime Minister of India. His diplomacy and leadership while handling political issues during the Kargil War and terrorist attacks further strengthened his image as a wise and capable leader of India.
Awards & Achievements
• Vajpayee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India in 1992 for his distinguished contribution in public affairs.
• He was honoured with Best Parliamentarian Award in 1994.
• In 2015, he was honoured with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the Republic of India.