Atalji always stood for democratic values: Sonia Gandhi (File Photo)
Former Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid a warm tribute to former prime minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the later breathed his last at AIIMS, Delhi on Thursday, August 16, 2018. The BJP stalwart was battling several kidney related ailments ever since he was admitted to the hospital on June 11. He was 93.
Being emotionally drained, Sonia Gandhi, who was one of the key opponents of Vajpayee for years, in a statement said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 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," Gandhi added.
"His warm personality and his gift of friendship won him admirers and friends across the political spectrum and from every walk of life," the senior Congress leader went on to lament farther.
"His death leaves behind a huge void. I join millions of our fellow Indians in mourning his loss and pray for the departed soul," Sonia concluded.
As Vajpayee, one of the tallest leaders of all time left behind a lasting legacy in the arena of politics, several national leaders cutting across party lines continued to throng AIIMS and his Delhi residence to bid adieu to their beloved Atalji.
Earlier in the day Vajpayee's successor Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress president Rahul Gandhi also paid heart-touching tributes to the leader.
While Manmohan described Vajpayee as one of "the tallest leaders of modern India", according to Rahul it was a great loss for the entire nation.
Vajpayee, who served as the prime minister of India between 1998 and 2004, will be laid to rest at the Smriti Sthal on Friday afternoon. The Central and all state governments have declared a seven-day state mourning and public holiday on Friday.