Fortunate that my friendship with Atal Ji lasted for 65 years: Advani

New Delhi: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani on Monday said that he considers himself fortunate as his friendship with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee lasted for 65 years.

Addressing the all-party prayer meet for Vajpayee, Advani said, “I consider myself fortunate that my friendship with Atal Ji lasted for 65 years during which I watched him closely. Working together, we shared our experiences, watched films together and read books together. He was also a great cook; he had cooked for me many times.”

“I have addressed several public meetings but I had never thought that I will once have to address a meeting like this, a meeting where Atal Ji would not be there,” he added.

Advani also expressed his happiness over the presence of several Opposition leaders at the prayer meet and said, “Although the fact that not just people who knew him, worked with him are present here, but leaders from several parties are in attendance makes me happy.”

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat also lauded Vajpayee for his “loving and caring nature, despite being in politics”.

“Atal ji’s words and his life, be it someone who watched him closely or from far, everyone found him to be the same and believed in him. The work he had been involved in, which was a sapling back then, has now become a tree and everyone is reaping benefits from it. His life is an example for every Swayamsevak of the Sangh,” he added.

A host of political leaders and other eminent personalities attended the prayer meet. Apart from Vajpayee’s daughter Namita Bhattacharya and granddaughter Niharika, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, Union Minister Rajnath Singh were some of the notable attendees.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja and Yoga guru Ramdev were also present at the occasion.