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Emotions run high as PM walks along Atal’s hearse

Published : Aug 18, 2018, 12:54 am IST
Updated : Aug 18, 2018, 4:30 am IST

Amid chants of hymns from Bhagavad Gita, sea of mourners and political leaders throng streets for ex-PM’s last glimpse.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and people participate in the funeral procession of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee as his mortal remains are taken for cremation to Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: Biplab Banerjee)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and people participate in the funeral procession of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee as his mortal remains are taken for cremation to Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo: Biplab Banerjee)

New Delhi: Amidst the chanting of hymns from the Bhagavad Gita, the mortal remains of Atal Behari Vajpayee made their maiden but last entry to the newly-constructed party headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg. Vajpayee, 93, who could not visit the BJP headquarters, which shifted to the DDU Marg from the nostalgic Ashoka Road, due to illness, passed away after a prolonged illness on Thursday. It was Bhagavad Gita’s last adhyaya (chapter) on “moksha”, which saw Vajpayee’s mortal remains leaving the BJP headquarters for their final journey to the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal, where they were consigned to the flames at 4.56 pm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, along with other BJP leaders, walked behind the decorated gun carriage that carried the mortal remains, up to his final resting place.

The decorated gun carriage, with Vajpayee favourite flowers — bela and rajniganda — brought the former Prime Minister’s mortal remains to the BJP headquarters from his residence at Kamraj Marg, where thousands of people had gathered to pay their last respect to the BJP patriarch. A huge poster carrying Vajpayee’s photograph and lines from his poem Maut se thann gayi — laut kar aunga, kooch se kyu daru (will come back, why fear from embarking on a journey) — was put up on the high wall, facing the main entrance.

Politicians cutting across party lines, visited the BJP headquarters to pay their respects. CPI’s D. Raja and CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury were among those who visited the BJP headquarters to pay their respects.

The Prime Minister had reached the party headquarters way before the mortal remains reached and was seen waiting at the entrance with Mr Shah and other BJP top brass for the gun carriage.

A massive crowd chanted “Atalji amar rahe (long live Atalji)” and showered rose petals on the glass casket carrying the former Prime Minister and BJP patriarch.

Prime Minister Naredra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah walked behind the gun carriage carrying the mortal remains, with a sea of people, joining the funeral procession. BJP chief ministers, including Vijay Rupani, Shivraj Chouhan and Devendra Fadnavis, were among those who walked sombrely behind the carriage.

Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, national security advisor Ajit Doval and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat paid homage to the former Prime Minister at his official residence, from where he was brought to the BJP headquarters around 11 am.

In his condolence message on the visitor’s book at the former Prime Minister’s residence, Mr Bhagwat wrote that people like Atal Behari Vajpayee are born only once in centuries and he would remain immortal.

“Atalji’s demise has left a void in our hearts which will be impossible to fill. People like him are born only once in centuries. He has left his body after leaving his distinct mark in a complete era. He has set up the benchmark for the dignity of character, which will remain with us as his biggest accomplishment. Atalji is no more but he will remain immortal,” wrote Mr Bhagwat.

As Vajpayee’s mortal remains left the BJP headquarters draped in the tricolour, Gayatri mantra reverberated and people chanted “Atal behari amar rahen”. Rose petals were showered upon him, with people jostling each other to have his last glipmse.

BJP workers made a human chain, along the two sides of the gun carriage to check the emotionally charged people reaching too near the gun carriage or the BJP leaders, including Mr Modi and Mr Shah, who covered the around four kilometre. With never ending queues of visitors outside the BJP headquarters, some were seen trying to climb up trees.

The BJP had made arrangements for visitors by putting up two big LED screens outside and party supporters providing water and also making sure to pick up water bottles and asking people to put the empty bottles in cartons.

Mourners walked and ran beside the carriage, also chanting slogans like “Jab tak sooraj chand rahega Atalji ka naam rahega”, punctuated by patriotic cheers of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”.

Tags: atal behari vajpayee, bhagavad gita, prime minister narendra modi, amit shah
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi