Vajpayee's contributions remembered in Shimla

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Shimla : A prayer meeting was held at the historic Ridge here on Wednesday to pay tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died in New Delhi on August 16.

Urns containing Vajpayee's ashes were brought here from the national capital and were received by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and his cabinet colleagues.

Thousands of people had gathered for the prayer.

Governor Acharya Devvrat, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, former Chief Ministers Shanta Kumar, Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rajiv Bindal were among those present.

Paying tributes, the Governor said that Vajpayee was a universally loved politician and a great personality who, over the decades, had emerged as a statesman.

Chief Minister Thakur called Vajpayee a visionary leader, who was above party politics. His demise was indeed a great loss to the nation in general and Himachal Pradesh in particular.

He said Vajpayee has a special place in his heart for the people of the state and the state would always miss his love and benevolence.

Vajpayee always considered this state as his second home and has a house at Prini in Kullu district. Whenever he got time from his busy schedule, he visited Manali and wrote some unforgettable poems there, the Chief Minister said.

The idea to construct the Rohtang tunnel connecting the landlocked Lahaul valley with rest of the world was conceived by Vajpayee in 1998 and the project was announced by him on June 3, 2000, he added.

Thakur said that this project was nearing completion and would be the biggest gift of Vajpayee to the state.

Remembering Vajpayee's contributions, Union Health Minister Nadda said, he made India a nuclear power despite pressure from the international community.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and two-time Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that Vajpayee as a Prime Minister was always considerate towards the developmental needs of the state.

Congress leader and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said Vajpayee was always eager to help the needy, without discrimination.