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.