New Delhi, June 11: Former Prime Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee died after prolonged illness on Thursday. 93-year-old Vajpayee breathed his last at 5:05 PM at national capital’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Confirming the saddening news, the hospital in a statement said,”It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 05: 05 pm on 16.08.2018.”

“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. We join the nation in deeply mourning the great loss,” it added.

Expressing grief over Vajpayee’s demise, PM Narendra Modi in a tweet said,”India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji. His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.”

“It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India,” PM added.

Furthermore he said,”Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me. I have countless fond memories with him. He was an inspiration to Karyakartas like me. I will particularly remember his sharp intellect and outstanding wit. It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick. He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread the BJP’s message, which led to the BJP becoming a strong force in our national polity and in several states.”

Notably, Vajpayee was taken to the hospital on June 11 from his residence on doctor’s advice for a routine check-up in the afternoon. AIIMS director and a pulmonologist Randeep Guleria was keeping an eye on Vajpayee’s health. For over three decades, Guleria had served as personal physician to Vajpayee. Earlier in the day, AIIMS had released a medical bulletin stating,”Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s condition continues to be the same. He is critical and is on life support system.”

Following this, several politicos including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and others visited the hospital to meet the former PM. Various Chief Ministers including Mamata Banerjee, Yogi Adityanath, Devendra Fadnavis and Nitish Kumar are also expected to reach national capital.

Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister briefly in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004, retreated from active politics over the last few years due to failing health conditions. Born on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee entered politics during the Quit India movement in 1942. He was the first external affairs minister to deliver a speech in the UN Assembly in Hindi.

Vajpayee was elected to Lok Sabha from Lucknow in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. A political persona known for his exemplary leadership and contribution to Indian politics, Vajpayee was the first non-Congress leader who served the nation as the Prime Minister and completed the full five-year term from 1999 to 2004.