The former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away yesterday in New Delhi, India. He was 93.

He was born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, central India. He was named President of the BJP in 1980.

The late Prime Minister had a long association with Bhutan since he visited the kingdom in 1977 as foreign minister. Kuensel records show the late prime minister had described Indo-Bhutan relations as a special friendship, based on close geographical proximity, a long and open border, and long historical, religious, and cultural affinity.

“As mentioned by our leaders and also quite often by His Majesty, the basis of our friendship should be the principle of trust and confidence, understanding of each other’s aspirations and the policies and sensitivity to each other’s interest,” he had once told a gathering in Thimphu. “At no stage can we take each other for granted, just as at no stage can any government of India not be fully committed to the development progress and prosperity of the people of Bhutan.”

When he first visited Bhutan in 1977 as the foreign minister, the late prime minister, moved by the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to him by the people and the government of Bhutan composed a song in praise of Bhutan, her people and His Majesty.

According to Kuensel records, the lyrics, describe Bhutan as the land of Gods and the people as hard working and industrious. The men, states the poem, excel in archery while the women carry themselves with grace. 

Freedom to them is dearer than life and pride throbs in the heart of every child. Monarchy is cherished and the King is young and kind. A fire burns in heart. The song as composed in Hindi was recited at the dinner given by the Indian Foreign Minister at the residence of the Representative of India.

When a minister had commented that the weather was somewhat cold, the late prime minister had answered “Yes it is cold, but the warmth of friendship and hospitality makes the cold bearable.”

Staff Reporter