Atal ji will live on in hearts and minds of every Indian: Modi
New Delhi, Aug 17: Paying his last respects to Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was an extraordinary personality who will live on in the hearts and minds of every Indian.
Modi said that no words can ever do justice to Vajpayee's "rich contribution to the making of our country".
"People came from all parts of India, from all sections of society pay tributes to an extraordinary personality who made an extraordinary contribution to the nation. India salutes you Atal Ji!," Modi tweeted today as the former prime minister's mortal remains were consigned to flames here.
Earlier in a blog, Modi said India had found a leader in Vajpayee who was gifted in spirit, heart and mind.
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, he said describing him.
Vajpayee rescued the economy from the morass of the mid-1990s, when political instability at home and an uncertain global environment had threatened to derail a still incipient economic reforms process, he said.
"He sowed the seeds of much of the economic success that we have experienced over the past two decades. For him, growth was a means to empower the weakest and mainstream the marginalized. It's that vision that continues to drive our government's policy," the prime minister said.
It was 'Atalji' who prepared the foundations of an India that is ready to take on the mantle of global leadership in the 21st century, he said.
Modi said he irreversibly changed India's place in the world by overcoming "the hesitation of our nation, the resistance of the world and threat of isolation" to make India a nuclear weapons power.
Personally, Vajpayee was an ideal, a guru, and role model who inspired him deeply, he said.
It was Vajpayee who entrusted him with responsibilities both in Gujarat (as chief minister) as well as at the national level, Modi said.
"It was he who called me one evening in October 2001 and told me to go to Gujarat as chief minister. When I told him that I had always worked in the organisation, he said he was confident I would fulfil people's expectations. The faith he had in me was humbling." he said.
Hailing Vajpayee's term as prime minister, Modi said India today is a self-assured nation, brimming with the energy of its youth and resolve of its people, eager for change and confident of achieving it, striving for clean and responsive governance, building future of inclusion and opportunity for all Indians.
"We engage the world as equals and in peace, and we speak for principles and support the aspirations of others. We are on the path that Atalji wanted us to take. He was ahead of the times, because he had a deep sense of history, and he could peer into the soul of India from his grasp of our civilizational ethos," he said.
Vajpayee transformed five decades of India's estrangement with the USA into an enduring strategic partnership in the course of five years, the prime minister said, adding that he also steered India to deep friendship with a new post-Soviet Russia through a strategic partnership in 2000.
"I had the privilege of accompanying him on a visit to Russia in November 2001 when we concluded a sister province agreement between Gujarat and Astrakhan." he said.
Modi said Vajpayee made the boldest move for peace with China in an effort to overcome the burdens of a difficult past by establishing the mechanism of Special Representatives for boundary talks.
In many ways, he was the inspiration for, and even pioneer of, his government's Neighbourhood First policy, Modi said.
"He (Vajpayee) was unwavering in his support as an opposition leader towards Bangladesh's liberation. He went to Lahore in search of peace. With persistence and optimism that was his nature, he continued to search for peace and heal the wounds in Jammu and Kashmir," Modi wrote.
But, he was resolute in winning the Kargil War, and when terror attack hit Parliament, he made the world recognize the true nature and source of cross-border terrorism against India, the prime minister said.
Modi described Vajpayee as an orator without parallel who could switch from "disarming humour to a lofty vision" with ease, with a rare ability to connect with people naturally, to stir them to self-belief and to a higher cause.
Sharply perceptive, he could summarise the most complex issues and discussions in a single sentence or question, Modi said.
"For those of us who knew him, he was first the rarest of human beings who touched and inspired everyone he met. He was compassionate to the core, generous in spirit, warm beyond measure and kind to a fault. He was deeply respectful of others and gifted with a rare sense of humour that he often turned upon himself," Modi said.