Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died following a prolonged illness, according to a hospital statement.

A Hindu nationalist from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vajpayee had been hospitalised since June with a kidney infection and chest congestion.

Reports emerged on Thursday morning that Vajpayee was in a critical condition after India’s top politicians visited the 93-year-old in New Dehli’s All India Institute of Medical Science.

Vajpayee served as India’s Prime Minister three times: for 13 days in 1996, 11 months in 1998 to 1999 and then from 1999 to 2004.

He was a key figure in the development of India’s nuclear programme, ordering weapons tests in 1998, which stoked fears of an atomic war with neighouring Pakistan, which also tested a nuclear device in response.

However, he was later involved in a groundbreaking peace process with Islamabad. 

He retired from politics in 2005 and suffered a stroke in 2009.

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