New Delhi, Aug 16: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today described former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a "towering figure" who stood for democratic values and demonstrated this commitment in all his acts.
Expressing sadness over his demise, the former Congress chief said his warm personality and gift of friendship won him admirers and friends across the political spectrum and every walk of life.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee....His death leaves behind a huge void. I join millions of our fellow Indians in mourning his loss and pray for the departed soul," she said in her condolence message.
"Shri Vajpayee was a towering figure in our national life. Throughout his life, he stood for democratic values and demonstrated this commitment in all his acts, whether as a parliamentarian, a cabinet minister, or prime minister of India. He was a spell-binding orator, a leader of great vision, a patriot to the core for whom the national interest was paramount.
"But above all, he was a man with a very large heart and a real spirit of magnanimity. One saw that in all his interactions -- with other political parties and their leaders, with foreign governments, with coalition partners, and indeed with his own political colleagues, whom he always treated with respect and courtesy," she said.
Vajpayee, one of India's most charismatic leaders who led the nation through several crises while holding together a tenuous coalition with his inclusive politics and superlative oratory, died here today. He was 93.
Vajpayee, a bachelor, is survived by his adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya. He will be cremated tomorrow in New Delhi.