The people of Himachal Pradesh paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary today. The main function on the occasion was held in Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali in Kullu district which was scheduled to be presided over by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. However, due to inclement weather conditions, he could not reach in person and addressed the 'Atal Smiriti-2019' function through video conference from Shimla.The Chief Minister said that Shri Vajpayee provided a dynamic leadership to the nation and was always regarded as a world leader. He was the only leader of his time who was loved and respected by all and even his political adversaries would keenly listen to his speeches both inside and outside the Parliament. He was a great Parliamentarian and commanded respect from his opponents as well. He said that Atal Ji was also known for his unique oratory skill as people from far-off places used to attend his public meetings.Jai Ram Thakur said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee introduced Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna and national highways development project, which proved a boon for the country especially for the people of Himachal Pradesh as thousands of villages were connected with roads under this scheme. It was under his leadership that despite all odds and pressures, India carried out nuclear tests and became a nuclear power. Similarly, it was because of his strong political will that the nation gave befitting reply to Pakistan during the Kargil aggression.
While terming Shri Vajpayee as a true statesman and people's leader, Jai Ram Thakur said that he had special connection with Himachal, which he fondly called his ‘second home’ and never missed any opportunity to come here and reciprocate by showering concern for the state. The small house that he built in Kullu district at Prini village, surrounded by forests in the vicinity of gurgling Beas river in 90s now stands live with his memories. He said that Shri Vajpayee was always considerate towards the developmental needs and aspirations of the people of the State.The Chief Minister laid foundation stone of statue of Atal Bihari Vajpayee online to be erected at Manali. He also inaugurated Rs. 2.62 crore building of government senior secondary school, Jagatsukh and laid foundation stone of artificial rock climbing wall to be constructed by spending an amount of 2.80 crore. He laid foundation stone of link road from Shilla Hallan to Trashi and Dachani under NABARD to be completed by spending Rs. 4.24 crore.Transport and Forest Minister Govind Thakur, MP Ram Swaroop Sharma and MLA Surinder Shourie were present at Manali on the occasion.Earlier, the Chief Minister visited State BJP headquarters at Shimla and paid floral tributes on the portrait of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
While speaking on the occasion, he said that the biggest gift of Shri Vajpayee to Himachal Pradesh especially for the people of tribal district of Lahaul Spiti was the multi-crore Rohtang tunnel project that he pushed hard for round the year connectivity to Lahaul valley, which also has strategic importance from defense point of view. Shri Vajpayee had spontaneously announced financial help of crores of rupees to this hill state without any prior planning on a little request by the leaders on the spot which showed his love and affection for the people of the State.Jai Ram Thakur said that love and respect for Atal Ji was clearly visible from the fact that lakhs of people participated in his last journey from the BJP Headquarters at Delhi, although he was away from active politics for about ten years. He said that such was his charisma that even his opponents loved his thoughts and vision.Chairman, HIMFED and Vice President State BJP Ganesh Dutt while paying tributes nostalgically remembered association with Atal Bihari Vajpayee.State BJP Vice President and Chairperson, Saksham Gudiya Board Roopa Sharma also spoke on the occasion.Secretary, State BJP Payal Vaidya, Chairman of the Kailash Federation Ravi Mehta, former MLA Tejwant Negi, Mayor Kusum Sadrate, Deputy Mayor Rakesh Sharma, Political Advisor to Chief Minister Trilok Jamwal, OSDs to Chief Minister Mahender Dharmani and Shishu Dharma were also present on the occasion.