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India’s three-time prime minister Vajpayee dies aged 93

Atal Behari Vajpayee-afp

Then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee pictured during a function at his residence in New Delhi on June 1, 1999

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Three-time Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died, current leader Narendra Modi said Thursday of the ailing 93-year-old who had been hospitalised.

“Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me,” Modi said in a tweet Thursday, using a Hindi-language honorific.

“It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century.”

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Vajpayee had battled poor health for years but his condition deteriorated sharply in recent days.

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The former premier was being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, where he was admitted nine weeks ago with health complications.

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“Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best efforts, we have lost him today,” AIIMS said in a statement.

“We join the nation in deeply mourning this great loss.”

His waning health sparked a flurry of visits from top dignitaries Thursday, including Modi and senior cabinet ministers.

Vajpayee, a former journalist and poet-turned-politician, was credited with helping lay the foundations for the meteoric rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the right-wing political powerhouse that rules India today.

AFP

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