New Delhi– Indian industry paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee following his demise on Thursday, saying the iconic BJP leader ushered in the second generation of economic reforms that promoted India’s rapid growth.

“The second generation of economic reforms introduced under his visionary leadership contributed greatly to a facilitative investment climate which in turn promoted India’s rapid growth,” CII President Rakesh Bharti Mittal said.

Vajpayee, whose politics of moderation in a hardline party propelled the BJP to power in the 1990s, died on Thursday evening at AIIMS here after a long illness. The 93-year-old had faded from public life for over a decade following health complications.

“Ficci mourns the loss of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is a very sad day for India. He was one of the most dynamic leaders who ushered in an era of reforms, progress and took the country forward,” Ficci President Rashesh Shah said.

Vajpayee is remembered for various policy actions that led to rapid growth in telecom, power, financial sector, insurance, agriculture, education and national highways that contributed hugely to unlocking the nation’s economic potential.

“… (Vajpayee) won laurels for his views and ideologies that always aimed at cementing the diverse and complex nature of Indian polity and its society and at the same time put in a great deal of efforts for sustained economic development of the country,” PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Anil Khaitan said.

As a mark of respect, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has appealed to the traders and business establishments in Delhi to remain closed on Friday.

“Atal ji was a political saint who laid new dimensions to Indian polity. His unflinching patriotism, oratory skills and the whole life will be an inspiration to nation. His death has caused a political void which can’t be filled,” CAIT President B.C. Bhartia said.

Captains of Indian industry recalled how Vajpayee remained a strong proponent of industrial and economic development through market reforms for a strong India.

“A great economic reformer, as a Prime Minister he was always guided by a strong conviction that liberalization would help us realize our economic potential and ultimately open the doors to becoming a globally competitive, strong and resilient economy,” Bharti Enterprises Founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

Vajpayee can truly be called the “Father of Modern Telecommunication in India” having ushered in the National Telecom Policy in 1999, Mittal added.

Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan N. Tata said: “All of us who knew Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee are saddened to hear of his passing away. He was a great leader with a great sense of compassion and humour. He will be remembered fondly by a vast number of us.”

Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal said: “Today, India has lost a true son of the soil, who rose from a very humble background to lead the country at a crucial juncture… While Atal ji may not be physically present amongst us now, his beliefs and his reform oriented ideas will continue to enlighten and guide us.”

Apollo Hospitals Founder and Chairman Prathap Reddy said: “He put the nation on the fast track with initiatives like the Golden Quadrilateral project, the New Telecom Policy, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and the Fiscal Responsibility Act that laid down the path for future governments to follow.”

Mahindra Group Executive Chairman Anand Mahindra tweeted: “The leadership lesson that I learned from my interactions with him was that no matter how significant your achievements while in office, you ultimately earn the affection of people through your humanity and your humility…” (IANS)