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Calling Vajpayee’s death a “personal loss”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it marks the end of an era. He said the BJP patriarch lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades while noting that it was Vajpayee’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. “Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me. I have countless fond memories of him. He was an inspiration to Karyakartas like me. I will particularly remember his sharp intellect and outstanding wit. 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,” Modi tweeted. He said it was due to Vajpayee’s perseverance and struggles that the BJP was built brick by brick.
Vajpayee was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in March 2015. During his second term as prime minister, Vajpayee ordered nuclear tests in May 1998 in a strategic masterstroke to blunt Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions. He followed this up with peace overtures to Pakistan, riding on the first direct bus from India to Pakistan in February 1999.