Poonam Singh

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among the dignitaries who paid rich tribute to former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 96th birth anniversary.

President Kovind paid homage to Vajpayee at 'Sadaiv Atal', a memorial to the former prime minister, here, the Rashtrapati Bhavan stated in a tweet.

Besides Kovind and Modi, top Union ministers also attended a prayer meeting at the memorial and paid homage to the first prime minister from the saffron party.

Vajpayee's visionary leadership saw the country's development reach unprecedented heights, Modi said in a tweet. "His efforts for making a strong and prosperous India will be remembered forever," he said.

Naidu shared several poems penned by Vajpayee to remember him fondly and lauded him as a "great visionary" and the "man of masses ".

"Atal Ji was a leader par excellence who was respected across party lines. He was an exceptional orator, a distinguished scholar and a gifted poet, but above all, he was a large-hearted human being who cared deeply for the country and its welfare," he said.

Home Minister Amit Shah said Vajpayee's ideas and dedication to the country's development will always inspire them to serve the country. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president J P Nadda were among other key leaders who paid homage to him.

Born in 1924, Vajpayee was a founder member of the Jana Sangh and then the BJP, a party which rose from the margins to rule India for the first time in 1990s with him being its main face. His tenure is credited with ushering in a fresh wave of liberalisation, boosting growth and infrastructure.

(With PTI Inputs)