New Delhi, Aug 10: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, at a prayer meeting held to pay tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said the late BJP stalwart and the former prime minister was a "not less than a Messiah" to the people of her state.
Leaders cutting across fondly remembered Vajpayee and heaped praise at the brand of politics practiced by him. In a moving tribute to Vajpayee, veteran BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani said that he had never thought he would be addressing a meeting "where Atal ji would not be there".
"He was a great human being but for the people of Jammu and Kashmir he was not less than a Messiah. He was the first Indian leader who trusted the people of Jammu and Kashmir and whom the people trusted," said Mehbooba Mufti on Monday (August 20).
"This was Vajpayee ji who went to Pakistan and made Musharraf sahab say that they will not use the land of Jammu and Kashmir for militancy," she added.
BJP president Amit Shah
BJP president Amit Shah said that Vajpayee never let the saffron party deviate from its core ideology.
"Atal ji had a multifaceted personality. Besides being an 'ajatshatru' he was a great poet, journalist & politician who never let the party deviate from the path of its ideology," Shah said.
TMC's Derek O'Brien
Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien said Vajpayee was truly secular. He coined a new acronym for RIP and said that for Vajpayee it would be 'Really Incredible Person'.
"If you look for definition of certain words, you have to look in the dictionary. But there's one word you don't need to look in dictionary...if you look at his face you will get the meaning of the word 'secular'..There are many communities around the world, when someone passes away they always write RIP which means 'Rest in Peace' but maybe after 16th Aug 2018 RIP for this great man will mean 'Really Incredible Person'," he said.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that Vajpayee had a big heart, adding that nation's interest was always a ‘top priority' for the late former prime minister.
AIADMK's M. Thambi Durai
"We mourn the loss of a great nationalist, a poet, a statesman, a veteran parliamentarian for decades and above all , a gentleman to the core, the former Prime Minister of India, Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee..I was in Lok Sabha 1984 onwards,he was a Rajya Sabha member. I developed friendship with him gradually. He told me once, 'There is always difference in opinion. But for nation's development, what cabinet decides, we implement that'," Thambidurai said.
PM Modi interacting with AB vajpayee's family
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with the foster daughter of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Namita Bhattacharya, and his granddaughter Niharika at the prayer meeting for the former PM.
(Images credit - ANI/Twitter)
Senior political leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, LK Advani, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir CMs Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, as well as Yoga guru Ramdev were also in attendance for today's prayer meet.
"He did not become popular because he was the PM. I think he would have been as popular as he was after being the PM, had he worked in any social or political sector," Rajnath Singh at the meeting.
"Atal ji's words and his life...be it someone who watched him closely or saw him from far away, everyone found him to be the same and believed in him," said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
He led an absolutely unblemished life. He had a unique style. He never worried about food, lifestyle or any other thing. I pay my tributes to such a man full of love and humanity: Sharad Yadav at #AtalBihariVajpayee's prayer meeting in Delhi pic.twitter.com/Ow4qCPoJuw— ANI (@ANI) August 20, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, said that it was Vajpayee's efforts ensured that India became a nuclear power.
"Atal Ji's efforts ensured Indian became a nuclear power. He attributed the tests of 11th May 1998 to the brilliance of our scientists. Two days later, India tested again & showed what a strong political leadership can do. He never buckled under pressure. He was Atal after all," he said.
When the Vajpayee government created the three states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, the process was peaceful and without bitterness, the prime minister said.
Vajpayee died on August 16 at the age of 93 following a prolonged illness. He first became prime minister in 1996 for 13 days, then in 1998 for 13 months when the National Democratic Alliance again came to power and finally in 1999. He served as prime minister for a full term before being voted out in 2004.