President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday unveiled the life-size portrait of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Central Hall of Parliament.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Ministers and leaders of various parties were present during the event.
Vajpayee, a towering BJP leader, was the Prime Minister of the country three times – first for 13 days in 1996, then for 13 months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1999 to 2004.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP veteran passed away on August 16, 2018, after a prolonged illness.
The decision to install the portrait of the Bharat Ratna was taken on December 18 at a meeting of Parliament’s Portrait Committee chaired by Sumitra Mahajan.
The meeting, which was attended by Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, BJD’s B Mahtab, TMC’s Sudip Bondopadhyay, TRS’ Jithendra Reddy, Shiv Sena’s Ananth Geete and BJP’s Satyanarayan Jatia, had taken the decision unanimously.
The leaders whose portraits already adorn the Central Hall include former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi.
On the eve of Vajpayee’s 94th birthday, Prime Minister Modi had released a commemorative coin in memory of the late leader on December 24, 2018.
The commemorative coin has the Emblem of India on one side and on the other side, Vajpayee’s picture with his name inscribed in Devanagari and Roman languages.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind said, the former Prime Minister provided crucial leadership in challenging situations. The 1998 nuclear test in Pokhran and the 1999 Kargil war are examples of his firm decisions taken in the interest of the nation. The President said, Atal Bihari Vajpayee contributed in establishing India as a peace-loving but powerful nation.
In his address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a long political career and a large part of it was spent in Opposition. He said, despite that, the former Prime Minister continued raising issues of public interest and never ever deviated from his ideology. There was power in Atal Ji’s speech and there was equal power in Atal Ji’s silence. He said, the communication skills of Atal Bihari Vajpayee were unparalleled and he had a great sense of humour. He said, now on, Atal Ji will be forever in the Parliament’s Central Hall, inspiring and blessing leaders across generations.