New Delhi, August 16: Terming former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as one of the country’s tallest statesmen and his closest friend for over 65 years, BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani in his condolence message said that he will miss the departed leader immensely. Also Read - Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Verdict on September 30; All Accused Including Advani, Joshi Asked to Be Present in Court

Issuing a statement, Advani further stated,”Atalji will be remembered as the pioneer of the first ever stable non-Congress coalition government at the Centre and I had the privilege of working as his deputy for six years.” Also Read - Babri Mosque Demolition: Deadline For Verdict in Case Extended Till September 30

Read Advani’s complete statement here:  Also Read - Vajpayee 2nd Death Anniversary: India Will Always Remember You, PM Modi Pays Homage

I am at a loss of words to express my deep grief and sadness today as we all mourn the passing away of one of India’s tallest statesmen, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To me, Atalji was more than a senior colleague- in fact he was my closest friend for over 65 years.

I cherish the memories of my long association with him, right from our days as Pracharaks of the RSS, to the inception of Bharatiya Jana Singh, the struggle of the dark months during the Emergency leading to the formation of Janata Party and later the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980.

Atalji will be remembered as the pioneer of the first ever stable non-Congress coalition government at the Centre and I had the privilege of working as his deputy for six years.

As my senior, he always encouraged and guided me in every possible manner.

His captivating leadership qualities, mesmerising oratory, soaring patriotism and above all, his sterling humane qualities like compassion, humility and his remarkable ability to win over adversories despite ideological differences have all had a profound effect on me in all my years in public life.

I will miss Atalji immensely…

New Delhi.
16th August, 2018.

The 93-year-old Vajpayee breathed his last at 5:05 pm here on Thursday. Announcing the demise, All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in a press release wrote, “Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on 11.06.2018 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today.”