Its an end of an era, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of the most charismatic leaders passed away on Thursday. He breathed his last at 5.05 PM at All India Institute of Medical Science in Delhi. The iconic leader was admitted to AIIMS on June 11.
The Centre has declared seven days of national mourning for Vajpayee, who became the prime minister of India thrice. The National Flag will be flown at half-mast till August 22, 2018, as a mark of respect for the departed leader.
Leaders from across the political spectrum paid rich tributes to Vajpayee. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, union ministers and chief ministers recalled Vajpayee as a great statesman, orator and leader who believed in developing consensus on all major national issues.
President Ram Nath Kovind Tweeted saying, Extremely sad to hear of the passing of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, our former Prime Minister and a true Indian statesman. His leadership, foresight, maturity and eloquence put him in a league of his own. Atalji, the Gentle Giant, will be missed by one and all.
PM Narendra Modi in a Tweet said: India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji. His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades. My thoughts are with his family, BJP Karyakartas and millions of admirers in this hour of sadness. Om Shanti.
Vajpayee retired from active politics in 2005, a year after the BJP-led NDA lost the Lok Sabha elections.
He became the prime minister for the first time in 1996 but was in power for only 13 days after the NDA failed to secure a majority, forcing him to resign before the vote of confidence. He took over as the Prime Minister of India for the second time in March 1998 but lost a trust vote in October 1999.
Under his leadership, the BJP-led NDA won the elections in 1999 and he was sworn in as the prime minister for the third term.
A Poet, a Journalist, a politician and then the prime minister of the country, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been a man of may virtues. He belonged to that rare league of politician who find love and respect equally among their friends and rivals. Born on 25th December 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee became president of Jansangh before becoming founding president of Bhartiya Janta Party. He became Prime Minister of the country thrice and gave the nation a strong and prosperous journey through his regime. He was the first Non Congress Prime Minister whose government could complete 5 years of tenure. His charismatic leadership ensured that NDA government with its 23 alliance from across the country not only ran successfully but also complted its term. A brilliant orataor, and a strong leader Vajpayeeji had heart of an emotional poet.
One of the most charismatic leaders in Indian Politics, a leader who struck an instant chord not only with the masses but also with opposition leaders, a born orator, whose free flowing speeches and extempore statements were admired by friends and opponents alike, a persona which is ador ed across party lines and above all, a fine human being who never lost his subtle sense of humor – ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE.
Vajpayee is lauded as a statesman politician whose acceptability across the board was instrumental in attracting many parties and outfits to the NDA umbrella, a move that broke barriers and catapulted BJP to power in Delhi. Considered a master politician, it was his gentle manners and finesse that made the difference as many regional leaders shed their inhibition and ultimately accept his leadership and join the alliance. It was no mean task because till then the BJP was virtually considered an untouchable party by the regional satraps.
Vajpayee managed to not only cobble the coalition, but also achieved a commendable feat of running the government with 24 allies for a full term. Many still believe that it was Vajpayee’s reassuring presence that acted as a cohesive force keeping all the allies glued to the NDA camp. If his oratory skills pulled crowds to the election rallies, it was his affable and pleasant demeanor that was the driving force for the all-important alliance. He was soft-spoken, but was never shy of taking bold decisions, even if they were seemingly fraught with political hazards. His initiative to start the Lahore Delhi Bus service and go to Pakistan is certainly a case in point.
Once during a debate in parliament, he was so critical of the government that then prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru commented that he should become India’s Prime Minister one day. That day did arrive and how. In 1996, Atal Behari Vajpayee took oath to become the first BJP prime minister of the country. The government lasted for only 13 days. Then again in 1998, he took command of the country and the government lasted 13 months. IN the elections that ensued, NDA again took the Delhi citadel, and Vajpayee achieved a feat of steering a non Congress government to its full term.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh Vajpayee has a long parliamentary experience spanning over four decades. He was first elected to parliament in 1957 and was an active member of the parliament till 2004, when he was re-elected from Lucknow for a record 5th time. He was elected to the 5th, 6th and 7th Lok Sabha and again to the 10th, 11th 12th and 13th Lok Sabha and to Rajya Sabha in 1962 and 1986. He is the only parliamentarian elected from four different States at different times – UP, Gujarat, MP and Delhi.
The vagaries of alliance politics didn’t, however, stop him from undertaking a calculated decision of going ahead with the Pokhran Nuclear tests. Undeterred by the threat of sanctions or political alienation in the world fora, Vajpayee’s conviction stood him good as India registered its Nuclear prowess and also underlined its ability to withstand sanctions, economic or otherwise. The same belief was apparent when he chose to address UN General assembly in Hindi.
Known for his political acumen, he proved that he had a deep sense of economic foresight when he started his ambitious Golden Quadrilateral project. He is credited with doing all the groundwork that pitchforked Indian economy with a sustained growth year after year. Few Indian Prime Ministers have left such a dramatic impact on society. His presence in Parliament during debates meant that the reply or the intervention will have all the elements of his trademark style and demeanor.
He was opposition leader for 40 long years, but that length of time didn’t leave any regrets or frustration. Rather it enriched him with friends and admirers spanning across the political spectrum. Even the most vocal BJP opponents deployed carefully drafted words bordering on silent admiration when they had to give opinion on him.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a life time spent in politics, a life dedicated to nation, a life journey characterised by caravan of admiration and friendship.