Congress pays tribute: Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man with a very large hearthttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-pays-tribute-atal-bihari-vajpayee-was-a-man-with-a-very-large-heart-5310855/

Congress pays tribute: Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man with a very large heart

Atal Bihari Vajpayee dead: Sonia Gandhi said she was deeply saddened by his death. “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."

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Dr Manmohan Singh with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (Express Archive)

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday led the Congress in paying rich tributes to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Sonia said she was deeply saddened by his death. “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,” she said.

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But above all, she said, “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.”

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“His warm personality and his gift of friendship won him admirers and friends across the political spectrum and from every walk of life. His death leaves behind a huge void,” she said.

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In a letter to Vajpayee’s adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya conveying his “profound sorrow” at the passing away of Vajpayee, Singh said “Vajpayeeji was a great patriot and was one of the greatest leaders of India. He stood among the tallest leaders of modern India who spent his whole life serving our country.”

“He was an excellent orator, an impressive poet, an exceptional public servant, an outstanding Parliamentarian and a great Prime Minister of India. Vajpayeeji was a great statesman and he proved his ability both on national and international level, by improving our relationship with all the countries, especially with our neighbouring countries,” he said.

Prime Minister Vajpayee with Cabinet colleague Jaswant Singh (right). (Photo: Harish Tyagi)

“His ability and personality were such that people from all walks of life, irrespective of their political leanings, loved and respected Vajpayeeji. His services to our nation will be remembered for a long time to come,” he added.

Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress leader in Lok Sabha, said, “The country has lost a true patriot who took great risks to build peace within the country and with our neighbours once he became the Prime Minister.”

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Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “It is a great loss to the country. It was a joy to listen to Atalji, he cut across ideology, he was a person who had compassion and his belief to take India together is to be remembered. India has become poor in his loss. He has left a deep imprint.”

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Former Union Minister P Chidambaram remembered Vajpayee as a man of great wisdom, tolerance and compassion.

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“He led his party to its first victory in national elections and established the credentials of the BJP to run the central government. He will be remembered for many things, but above all for his genuine efforts to resolve the decades-long hostility between Pakistan and India. As long as he was at the helm, he resolutely anchored the BJP close to the middle and did not allow the party to swing to the extreme right of the political spectrum.,” he tweeted.