NEW DELHI — Former Prime Minister and BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee died today at Delhi's AIIMS hospital at 5.05 pm. Vajpayee had been battling age-related illnesses for a prolonged period of time.
Over the past two days, leaders from across party lines had been visiting AIIMS to see the former prime minister after the hospital announced in a bulletin last night that the 93-year-old's health was in a critical state.
One of the best known leaders of the BJP, Vajpayee served as the prime minister of the country before the Manmohan Singh-led UPA came into power in 2004.
Here are eight things you need to know about the former prime minister:
1. Vajpayee was the first prime minister outside of the Congress to complete a full term, from 1998 to 2004. Before that, he became prime minister in May 1996 but remained in office for only 13 days.
2. He was jailed for 23 days for participating in Quit India movement protests in 1942. Years later, he went to jail in 1975 for protesting against the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government. A report in Business Standard says that while he was in jail for months, he was later put under detention in his Delhi home.
3. After the Emergency, Vajpayee became the External Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai government between 1977 and 1979.
4. While Vajpayee was a part of the RSS in his youth, he had dabbled with communism as a student in the 1930s before choosing to join the right-wing organisation.
5. Vajpayee won his first election to the Lok Sabha in 1957 from Balrampur. He was elected to the parliament nine times since and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
6. In 1977, as the Minister of External Affairs, Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech in Hindi at the UN Assembly.
7. Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed by the speeches made by Vajpayee during his time in Parliament, he reportedly said that Vajpayee will become prime minister one day. This prediction came true years later in 1996.
8. Vajpayee quit active politics in 2007.