BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today expressed deep grief over demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and described him as one of the "tallest leaders" of the country.
Patnaik had served as union minister for steel and mines in the Vajpayee government from March 1998 to March 2000 till he assumed the office of Odisha chief minister.
"I am deeply grieved over demise of Vajpayeeji. India has lost one of its tallest leaders. He was loved by the people of India and of course the people of Odisha as well. May his soul rest in peace," Patnaik told reporters after paying his tribute to the late leader at the AIIMS, New Delhi.
Earlier, Patnaik had rushed to the national capital to enquire about Vajpayee's health condition as soon as he received news about the worsening health condition of the former Prime Minister.
However, Vajpayee's passing away was announced when Patnaik had been in the AIIMS premises.
Before leaving the state capital, Patnaik, who is also Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president, had said: "I served as cabinet minister in his (Vajpayee) government for two years.
To hear about his health, is very distressing," Asked about his experience of working with the leader, Patnaik said "Vajpayee is a great leader and it was always a very good experience to have worked under him."