New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other union ministers today paid tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary.

The leaders visited ‘Sadaiv Atal’, the memorial of the late BJP stalwart, to pay their tribute to him.

Vajpayee, a three-term Prime Minister, died on August 16, 2018, at the age of 93 after a prolonged illness.

Born in Gwalior on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior (in present-day Madhya Pradesh), he contested his first Lok Sabha elections in 1957 for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He lost to Raja Mahendra Pratap from Mathura but won from Balrampur.

Such great were his oratorical skills that the-then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, also the first Prime Minister of independent India, predicted that one day, Vajpayee himself would go on to hold the office.

He was among several opposition leaders arrested during the National Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975 but became the External Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai government in 1977. The same year, he became the first person to deliver a speech in the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi.

He was also among the co-founders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980 and its first President. In 1992, on December 5, just a day before what turned out to be the day the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished, he gave a controversial speech in Lucknow.

In 1996, he became the tenth Prime Minister of India and held the position for two more terms. His first two stints were short (16 days and 1 year, respectively); it was only during his third stint (1999-2004) that he completed a full five-year term.

BJP lost the 2004 General Elections and Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics in 2005. Over the years he became bed-ridden and was hospitalised frequently. In 2015, he was conferred the Bharat Ratna and breathed his last three years later.

He was cremated with full state honours and his pyre was lit by his foster daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.