HP CM unveils Vajpayee's statue at Ridge Maidan

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Shimla, Dec 25 (PTI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unveiled an 18 feet statue of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the historic Ridge Maidan here on his 96th birth anniversary on Friday.

The statue has been built at a cost of Rs 1.08 crore. The Ridge Maidan also houses statues of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Speaking at the occasion, Thakur recalled Vajpayee's contribution to nation-building.

The chief minister said India became a nuclear power due to Vajpayee's strong willpower.

It was during Vajpayee's tenure as prime minister that India successfully conducted underground nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1998.

Thakur said Vajpayee shared a special connection with Himachal Pradesh and fondly called the state his second home.

Despite his busy schedule, Vajpayee never missed an opportunity to come to Himachal Pradesh and used to spend several days at his home in Prini village near Manali, he said.

Born in 1924, Vajpayee was a founder member of the Jana Sangh and then the BJP, a party which rose from the margins to rule India for the first time in the 1990s with him being its main face. His tenure is credited with ushering in a fresh wave of liberalisation, boosting growth and infrastructure. PTI DJI DIV DIV