New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday released a commemorative Rs 100 coin as tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During the event which took place on the eve of the former premier’s 94th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Modi said, “Today’s political scenario is such that if one has to stay out of power for 2-5 yrs, one gets restless. Atal Ji sat in opposition, didn’t stop raising his voice for the people.” He added that while for some, power is oxygen and they cannot live without it, the late prime minister who had spent a major part of his career in the opposition benches was keen on raising issues of national interest.

Modi addressed the gathering that he would pay a visit to Vajpayee’s memorial on Tuesday to reiterate his commitment to the ideology and path shown by the statesman. “Vajpayee never compromised on the party’s ideology. He wanted democracy to be supreme. He built the Jana Sangh. But, when the time came to rescue our democracy he and others went to Janata Party,” said Modi.

He added, “Likewise when the choice was between remaining in power or comprising on ideology, he (Vajpayee) left Janata Party and formed the BJP.”

Modi said Vajpayee has built his party brick by brick and it is now among the largest political parties. As a speaker, Vajpayee was ‘unparalled’. “When he spoke, the nation spoke… When he spoke the nation listened,” said Prime Minister Modi.

The mind is not ready to believe that Vajpayee is no longer alive. Though he was away from public glare for nearly a decade due to ill health, the way people gave him a farewell on his demise showed the mark he had created in people’s minds, Modi said.

Vajpayee’s long-time associate and BJP veteran L K Advani, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah were present at the event.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee breathed his last at the AIIMS hospital in the national capital on August 16 this year at the age of 93 following a prolonged illness.

(With Agency inputs)