Delhi mourns its favourite statesman Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) went sleepless on Wednesday night as the news of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s deteriorating health spread

delhi Updated: Aug 17, 2018 10:07 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Atal Bihari Vajpayee,BJP,Delhi
BJP President Amit Shah addresses the media after the convoy carrying the mortal remains of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrives at his Krishna Menon Marg residence, in New Delhi on Thursday, Aug 16, 2018. (PTI)

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) went sleepless on Wednesday night as the news of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s deteriorating health spread. Speculation about his worsening condition started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited AIIMS at 7.24pm on Wednesday to check on Vajpayee’s condition.

After Modi, the visits of other dignitaries started and in no time the area outside gate No 2 of AIIMS was taken over by broadcast vans of the electronic media. The reporters spent the night in a waiting room outside the Cardiothoracic and Neurosciences Centre, where Vajpayee was admitted in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the first floor.

The Special Protection Group, which protects VVIPs, and the hospital guards had taken over the area and were guarding both the entrances of the building, the area near the staircase and elevator and the entire first floor on which the ICU is located.

By 10pm, AIIMS officials came out with a health bulletin. They informed the waiting reporters that Vajpayee’s condition had deteriorated and he was on life support systems.

PM Modi stayed for a good 30 minutes. A number of Union ministers and senior BJP leaders followed the Prime Minister into AIIMS well past midnight. They included JP Nadda, Harsh Vardhan, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Jitendar Singh, Meenakshi Lekhi, and the wife and daughter of Arun Jaitley. Some stayed in the hospital for over two hours.

Several attendants of patients who were admitted near the cardiothoracic and neurosciences centre were also in the crowd to catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Modi. Almost all of them had mobile phones in their hand, and were crowding the passage the moment news of popular political leaders visiting the hospital spread.

The frenzy continued through Thursday. During the day, the crowd swelled.

“Kab aayenge Modi ji,” asked 20-year-old Gudiya, who had accompanied her mother to the hospital’s eye centre, and was curiously scanning each vehicle. When he didn’t turn up for more than 20 minutes, her mother forced her to leave.

The policemen were trying their best to disperse the crowd. In fact, some of the people were heard telling the policemen that they were from the media in the hope that they would not be asked to leave. After a while the cops got suspicious and started asking for identity cards.

Hospital officials said they had not seen so many VIPs visiting during such a short duration. Close to 50 political figures visited AIIMS on Thursday between 7am and 5.30pm.

At 5.30pm, the hospital announced Vajpayee’s death, and within 10 minutes all the hustle and bustle settled. The crowd dispersed soon after.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 03:40 IST