Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister, passes away

Vajpayee's condition worsens, put on life-support system: AIIMS..

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 93, was on life support system at the country's premier health institute where he was undergoing treatment for the last nine weeks.

His second stint as Prime Minister was in 1998 when the National Democratic Alliance again came to power but that lasted for just 13 months.

Vajpayee avoided bedrock nationalist issues, like plans to build a Hindu temple at the site of a demolished north Indian mosque.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led condolences in a series of tweets, calling Vajpayee's death a "personal and irreplaceable loss".

BJP president Amit Shah said people can pay homage to the departed leader at his residence from 7.30 am to 8.30 am on Friday.

Vajpayee suffered a stroke in 2009 and retreated from public view.

Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk is scheduled to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday afternoon here along with a host of global envoys and dignitaries. In 1942, Vajpayee and his brother were arrested during the Quit India movement, rallying for independence from British rule - which ended five years later. India earned worldwide praise for its caution.

However, he was later involved in a groundbreaking peace process with Islamabad. He gave the go-ahead for underground nuclear tests in 1998 believing nuclear weapons would be deterrent against China and Pakistan. The diplomatic journey inaugurated the first regular bus service between the two nations.

"(US) president Bill Clinton denounced India for undermining the stability of South Asia and directly challenging "the firm worldwide consensus to stop nuclear proliferation", the article wrote.

India and the United States would go on to sign a landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008 under the watch of a different Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in an initiative that President Bush had pushed relentlessly, according to several former USA officials.

"Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was loved and respected by millions".

In 2015, the government honored Vajpayee with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, while his December 25 birthday was declared "Good Governance Day" in a tribute to his leadership.

The government announced the national flag will be flown at half staff in mourning for seven days at government offices and Indian embassies overseas.

Modi's government presented Vajpayee as an icon, seeking inspiration from his political career and cashing in on his stature and popularity as a statesman acceptable across political divides.

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