Condolences from across India’s borders have started pouring in as the news of former Prime Minister (PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee spreads.
Bhutan’s king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk has arrived in Delhi to attend the Vajpayee’s funeral scheduled to be held at 4 PM today at New Delhi’s Rashtriya Smriti Sthal.
Meanwhile, several South Asian leaders have condoled the national icon’s death. Newly-elected Pakistani PM Imran Khan called him a towering personality in South Asia who worked towards better India-Pakistan ties.
#AtalBihariVaajpayee was a tall political personality of the subcontinent.His attempts for the betterment of India-Pak relationship will always be remembered. Mr Vajpayee,as a foreign minister,took responsibility of improving India-Pak ties: Pak PM designate Imran Khan (file pic) pic.twitter.com/NQCWOzLOsw— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
Bangladeshi PM expressed her deep shock at the demise and called Vajpayee the ‘most famous son of India’.
"He was our friend and highly respected in Bangladesh. As a token of recognition for his invaluable contribution to our Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh government conferred on him Bangladesh Liberation War Honour. Today is a day of great sadness for all of us in Bangladesh," she said.
Nepalese PM K P Sharma Oli called Vajpayee ‘a true friend and well-wisher’ of Nepal while former Afghan President called him a ‘world statesman’. The Sri Lankan PM remembered Vajpayee’s role in ensuring stability in the island nation torn by civil war.
"I have had the privilege of knowing Shri AB Vajpayee since 1975. Furthermore, we had a close working relationship during my tenure are Prime Minister from 2001 to 2004. He played a vital role in ensuring stability in Sri Lanka," said Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Sri Lankan PM.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also offered his condolences to the people of India.
“Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee’s vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation. The American people and I stand with the people of India as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee’s passing. Today, we hold the people of India in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
The former PM’s mortal remains have been moved to the BJP headquarters in New Delhi with close to 5 lakh people expected to attend the funeral later today. Chants of ‘Atal Bihari amar rahein’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ were heard as the mortal remains were being moved to the BJP headquarters where several leaders have since assembled to convey their last regards to Vajpayee.