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Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated with full state honours



New Delhi, Aug 17 : ​Former prime minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated with full state honours at Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

Among the leaders present at the venue for the last rites ceremony are Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, and his deputy Manish Sisodia, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ashok Gehlot and Raj Babbar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and other senior leaders including L.K. Advani and Sitaram Yechury, and thousands of people paid their tributes as the mortal remains of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee reached the party’s central office here on Friday.



Vajpayee will be given a state funeral at around 4 p.m. at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna. His last journey from the party headquarters to Sthal will begin at 1 p.m. Several roads in the national capital will remain closed for the public today due to the funeral procession of the former PM, as per an advisory issued by Delhi Police.

The body, draped in the national flag reached the 6-A Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg headquarters in a procession which was joined by a large number of people from different parts of the country who chanted “Jab tak sooraj chand rahega, Atalji ka naam rahega”, “Bharat Mata ki jai” and “Vande Mataram” in unision to pay their tributes to the departed leader.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu , National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and all the three armed forces chiefs and  a host of leaders paid homage to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose body was lying in state at his residence.

Former Prime Minister of India and the BJP’s tallest leader and co-founder Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at 5.05 pm on Thursday. He was 93.As the casket reached the party office, people turned emotional and some of them had tears in their eyes in memory of their beloved leader who had a pan-India appeal. They had gathered outside the party office in large numbers since morning to pay their tributes. Security men had a hard time keeping the crowds in check.The country is observing a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect for the leader who had been decorated with Bharat Ratna and was very popular. The tricolour is flying half-staff.
Delhi government offices, schools and institutions are closed on Friday and central government offices will work for half-a-day.

The body was brought from the Krishna Menon Marg residence of the former Prime Minister in a flower-decked hearse drawn by a military truck.

They later paid their tributes by offering flowers to the body of the late leader. The mortal remains were kept in front of a large smiling picture of Vajpayee. A party flag had been placed on each side of the photograph.

Advani, a long-time associate of Vajpayee, visited the new party office to pay his tributes. Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D. Raja also paid their tributes. Among those present were union ministers, chief ministers, state ministers, MPs, MLAs and BJP office-bearers.

The Supreme Court has declared half day Holiday for courts in light of the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. No hearing will take place after 1 pm on Friday.


Officers from the three armed forces draped the body in the Tricolour on Thursday before enabling leaders and people to pay their last respects at his residence in central Delhi’s Krishna Menon Marg.

A few roads that will remain closed from 8 am today include Krishna Menon Marg, Tughlaq Road, Akbar Road and DDU Marg.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s final journey live  in full state honours

“It was the specialty of Atal ji that he never let humanity be harmed due to the political & ideological differences. Such a principle is needed in the country today,” said Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) General Secretary.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, and AAP MP Sanjay Singh pay last respects to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at BJP Headquarters.

“I met him once in 2006. He was a very good orator. The void of his absence can never be filled by anyone in Indian politics, he has been a role model for everyone and inspired many through his poetry, speeches, and oratorship,” says filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali arrives in Delhi, he will be attending the funeral of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Veteran BJP leader LK Advani and his daughter Pratibha Advani with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and his family at the BJP Headquarters.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah said, “He wanted India to be everybody’s. He also wanted to strike up a friendship with Pakistan. Unfortunately he couldn’t see that. I hope that the current govt and  Pakistan’s Imran Khan government will fulfill his dream, that will be a true tribute to him.

Yogi Adityanath, Sarbananda Sonowal and other senior leader pay their respects

Senior BJP leaders such as Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik gathered at the saffron party headquarters to pay their last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. DMK leader A Raja was also seen there.

Leaders from Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh to attend Vajpayee’s funeral

Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Min PK Gyawal, Sri Lanka acting Foreign Min Lakshman Kiriella, Bangladesh Foreign Min Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali & Pak Law Min Ali Zafar will arrive in Delhi today to pay tributes to former PM


Bhutanese king igme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk arrived in the National Capital on Friday and is here to attend the last rites of Bharat Ratna awardee and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He will be joined by a host of foreign dignitaries including foreign minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and Bangladesh, AH Mahmood Ali.

Sri Lanka’s Department of Government Information confirmed that the country’s acting foreign affairs minister Lakshman Kiriella would grace his presence at the funeral service of 93-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart, as the special envoy of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Pakistan’s acting Law and Information Minister Ali Zafar is likely to attend the last rites of former Indian prime minister.


The final journey begins: Vajpayee’s mortal remains are being carried to BJP HQ from his residence on Krishna Menon Marg. The mortal remains are accompanied by armed forces personnel who are guarding the chariot.


Mortal will be placed in a glass coffin.

Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Indian Air Force Chief B.S. Dhanoa were among those who paid homage to the late leader who died at the age of 93 at the AIIMS on Thursday.

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, famous song writer Javed Akthar and his wife Shabana Azmi also paid their homage to Vajpayee. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu also paid his homage to the former Prime Minister.

His body will be brought to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters at 6-A Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg at 9 a.m.

His funeral procession will begin at 1 p.m. and the last rites will be performed at 4 p.m. at Smriti Sthal.


Opposition to meet before winter session of Parliament, chalk out next move: Naidu



Kolkata, Nov 19 : The much talked about meeting of parties opposed to the BJP to strategise against the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha elections has been postponed and may now be held after the current Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said after a meeting between them here.

Claiming that democracy in the country was in danger, Naidu, who is also the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, said on Monday that there is a “democratic compulsion” for the senior opposition leaders to join hands to protect the nation.

Echoing his views, Banerjee said the meeting of anti-BJP parties would be held after campaigning in the Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament.

“The meeting to be held on November 22 has been postponed due to the ongoing election campaign. We want to meet before the next parliamentary session. We are in discussions about it. The date of the meeting will be announced soon,” Naidu told reporters following the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna here.

“Democracy in the country is in danger. So there is a democratic compulsion for us to join together. It is the responsibility of us, the senior leaders to protect the nation. Those who are opposing BJP will join together, discuss everything and chalk out a programme to go forward,” he said.

Naidu, whose TDP was earlier an ally of the BJP, has met a spectrum of leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, DMK’s M.K. Stalin, National Conference’ Farooq Abdullah, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and BSP chief Mayawati to forge a front against the ruling party and had proposed a meeting of opposition parties to be held in New Delhi on November 22.

Terming the meeting with Banerjee as successful, Naidu said fighting together has become necessary as all major institutions in the country including the CBI, the Income Tax Department, the RBI are under threat while the nation’s economy is at a standstill.

“We have to protect the institutions… you name any institution, they are under severe pressure and threat. Be it the CBI, Income Tax, RBI every institution is under threat. Even the petrol and diesel prices are increasing, there is inflation, the whole nation’s economy is at a standstill,” he said.

When asked whether the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who has refused to be a part of the “mahagatbandhan” if the Congress is included, will be considered as an ally, Naidu said, “All these things, we are going to discuss. We are in touch with Mayawati ji along with everybody else.”

Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, said she has invited Naidu for her proposed opposition party meeting here in January next year, which was confirmed by the TDP chief.

“We are grateful that he has come here. I invited him also for the January 19 meeting. We are discussing the matters for the country’s interest and earlier, we also discussed so many things. Today, we discussed in detail about the next future plans. When the meeting will be decided, we will discuss the plan of action. We are working and speaking together,” Banerjee said.

Responding to a question regarding who would be the face of the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties, Banerjee said, “Everybody will be the face of this Mahagatbandhan (grand alliance).”

Naidu interjected to say that “all of us are senior to Modi”.

The West Bengal BJP leadership, however, refused to give any importance to the meeting stating that both Banerjee and Naidu are regional leaders and neither have any vote bank in the other’s state.

“Does Naidu have any supporter in Bengal? Or does Banerjee have any vote bank in Andhra Pradesh? Then what is the point of this meeting?” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha questioned.

Terming the proposed alliance between opposition leaders like Banerjee and Naidu as an “alliance of thieves”, Sinha said common people know that some corrupt leaders are getting united to save themselves from getting arrested by the CBI.

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India, Vietnam should revive maritime connect : Kovind



Hanoi, Nov 19 : President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday called for reviving maritime connect between India and Vietnam as he exhorted increase in bilateral trade from the current $ 12.8 billion and  more cooperation in the areas of agriculture, pharmaceuticals, textiles and IT.

“There was a flourishing maritime connect in the past. In the last 8 years, we have seen almost four fold increase in bilateral trade, from 3.7 billion US dollars in 2010 to 12.8 US dollars last year. Agriculture has been a key sector of our cooperation involving trade, investment and training,” Kovind said while addressing the Vietnam-India Business Forum here.

“We feel privileged to have supported the Vietnamese agricultural revolution through the establishment of Cuu Long Rice Research Institute,” he said.

Stating that Vietnam is a huge agricultural economy with agro-marine-forestry exports surpassing $35 billion last year, Kovind said that agricultural products already occupy over 45 per cent of India-Vietnam bilateral trade.

“Agro-processing, agro-chemicals, farm machinery, bio-technology and high-tech farming hold immense potential for bilateral cooperation,” he said.

“Indian industry can also learn from Vietnam’s success in crops such as coffee, pepper, cashew, fruits and vegetables.”

The President also said that the Indian pharmaceuticals industry, the third largest in terms of volume and the world’s largest provider of generic drugs, can partner Vietnam in providing quality health-care, medicines and medical devices for the public health system at an affordable cost.

“Indian pharmaceutical companies are also looking at domestic production opportunities in Vietnam,” Kovind said.

He pointed out that both India and Vietnam are leading players in the textile industry.

“We must cooperate further to facilitate integration of value chains,” Kovind said.

He also highlighted significant opportunities between the two sides in the oil and gas, power, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors.

Stating that the Indian IT services, including digital economy and fin-tech sector have much to offer to Vietnamese growth, Kovind said start-up sectors and innovation based industry must be encouraged to leverage each other.

“We must also learn from each other on how to improve productivity; how to approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution; how to promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and not the least, how to leverage technology for governance,” he stated.

Vietnam is a key partner country of India in Southeast Asia and served as New Delhi’s coordinator country with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc till July this year

India and Vietnam have set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2020.

Later, Kovind also addressed an Indian community reception during which he invited members of the community to attend next year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the External Affairs Ministry-organised conclave of the Indian diaspora.

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Rafale controversy won’t dent IAF image: Raghunath Nambiar



Guwahati, Nov 19:  The image of Indian Air Force (IAF) will not be dented due to the controversy regarding the Rafale fighter jets deal, said Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, the deputy chief of IAF.

He said this here on Monday while interacting with the media and added that the people can differentiate between chaff and grain.

Nambiar interacted with the media over the proposed visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to present the coveted President’s standard to 118 Helicopter Unit and colours to the Air Defence College at Guwahati Air Force Station on November 29.

“My fellow citizens can differentiate between chaff and grain. The place of armed forces in India is very sacred,” he said.

The opposition Congress has challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in a debate over the details of the Rafale fighter jets deal signed with the French government.

Detailing on the IAF’s infrastructure development in the region, Nambiar said that the Force has operationalised six Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal Pradesh. These facilities will be used by civilians. These ALGs include Mechuka, Tuting, Passighat, Ziro, Aalo and Walong.

“We are yet to operationalise the Vijaynagar ALG, for there is some road connectivity issue. Operationalisation of these ALGs will come as a major boost to tourism.”

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