Sea of mourners walks miles in Vajpayee’s final procession
The last rites for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattarcharya at Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna with full state honours on Friday evening.
Vajpayee was cremated a little after 4:30pm. Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked alongside the carriage that carried Vajpayee’s mortal remains over 4km from the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg to Smriti Sthal. BJP president Amit Shah and other senior party leaders too joined the procession.
At the funeral ground, President Ram Nath Kovind and many dignitaries, including from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations, were present. Political leaders cutting across party lines also attended the funeral ceremony. Apart from Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, Samjawadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav was at the Smriti Sthal.
Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu, Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, BJP veteran LK Advani, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and others laid wreaths as they paid their last respects.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Ravi Shanker Prasad, Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman and Nitin Gadkari, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal too attended the funeral.
Earlier, the mortal remains of the 93-year-old former prime minister were brought to the headquarters of the BJP where thousands gathered to pay their respects to one of India’s tallest leaders, who had been one of the main founders for the party.
The body of the Bharat Ratna recipient, draped in the Tricolour, was brought to the BJP headquarters from his official residence at 6 A Krishna Menon Marg amid chants of ‘Atal Bihari Amar Rahe’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ by mourners, who accompanied the casket covered in white flowers.