Children do you know that Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee (Atalji, as he is fondly called by the people of India) who was the eleventh Prime Minister of India occupied this prestigious post thrice — first in 1996 ( May 16-31) ,then between 1998 to1999 and third time between 1999 to 2004 . During the three stints, he headed the governments of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Atal Behari Vajpayee has the unique distinction of being the first truly non-Congress premier. Unlike some others who preceded him, he neither belonged to the Congress party at any time in his political life, nor ever sought the Congress party’s support to form the government. In this sense, he and his party represent the genuine non-Congress pole in Indian politics. He was the first Prime Minister who had held the position of Leader of Opposition for several years. In 1977, as foreign minister in the Morarji Desai government, he delivered his speech at the UN in Hindi and became the first Indian leader to do so.
A Prolific Writer and Politician
Atal Behari Vajpayee attended Gwalior”s Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College), and graduated with distinctions in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He received a Degree of Post Graduation (M.A.) in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur, securing first-class marks. He later joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Vajpayee never married, becoming the first bachelor Prime Minister of India. He edited Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. His published works include Meri Sansadiya Yatra (in four volumes), Meri Ikkyavan Kavitayen, Sankalp Kaal, Shakti-se-Shanti, Four Decades in Parliament (speeches in three volumes), 1957-95, Lok Sabha Mein Atalji (a collection of speeches); Mrityu Ya Hatya, Amar Balidan, Kaidi Kaviraj Ki Kundalian (a collection of poems written in jail during Emergency); New Dimensions of India”s Foreign Policy (a collection of speeches delivered as External Affairs Minister during 1977-79); Jan Sangh Aur Mussalman; Sansad Mein Teen Dashak (Hindi) (speeches in Parliament, 1957-1992, three volumes); and Amar Aag Hai (a collection of poems, 1994). He is also a prolific poet and many of his poems like Kadam milakar chalna hoga and Door kahin koi rota hai were sung by the late Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh. Singer Bappi Lahiri has also composed an album of his other poems.
Vajpayee was also the first Prime Minister who broke the myth that the Congress party alone could provide stability to governance. He not only led a stable government that completed its term (from 1999 and 2004), but also a dynamic government that enabled India to achieve many landmark successes in national security, socio-economic development and foreign policy.
Above all, Vajpayee is remembered as one of India’s best Prime Ministers — and certainly the most adored Prime Minister so far. He is widely respected both within the country and abroad.
He is the man whom India”s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru prophesied to become the Prime Minister of India one day, the man whom the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the ‘Bheeshm Pitamah of Indian politics’, the man who led an Indian delegation to the United Nations for a discussion on the Kashmir issue despite being in the opposition.
The political life of Atal Behari Vajpayee, spanning across seven decades, has numerous exemplary accomplishments and statesmanship. He is the man who helped build the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from an insignificant political player in the 1984 elections, to being the single-largest party in 1996. He was invited to form the government as the leader of the single-largest party, though he did not have the majority. Here he showed he was a true statesman and not like any other power-hungry politician who would have tried every trick of the trade (read horse trading) to cobble up majority and remain in power. But he gracefully put in his papers when he did not get enough support.
I have a vision of India: an India free of hunger and fear, an India free of illiteracy and want.
He has a blemish free record and deserves the Bharat Ratna.
His statesmanship transcended politics.
We welcome this step, Atalji has done commendable job as PM.
Vajpayeeji should have been bestowed with Bharat Ratna during the UPA government itself. His personality and good lessons I learnt under him in the NDA ministry will always have an imprint on me.
Atal Behari Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Behari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in a Brahmin family. His birth place is Shinde Ki Chhavani, a town in the Gwalior District of Madhya Pradesh (then known as Central Province).
He has been a Member of Parliament since 1957. 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. His legacy as Prime Minister is a rich one that is remembered and cherished even a decade after his term ended.
It was during his period that India entered a select group of nations following a series of successful nuclear tests at Pokhran in May 1998 as well as Kargil victory. The bus journey to Pakistan in February 1999 was widely acclaimed for starting a new era of negotiations to resolve the outstanding problems of the sub-continent. It was during Shri Vajpayee”s 1998-99 tenure that despite a global recession, India achieved 5.8 per cent GDP growth, which was higher than the previous year. Higher agricultural production and increase in foreign exchange reserves during this period were indicative of a forward-looking economy responding to the needs of the people. “We must grow faster. We simply have no other alternative” has been Shri Vajpayee”s slogan focusing particularly on economic empowerment of the rural poor. The bold decisions taken by his Government for strengthening rural economy, building a strong infrastructure and revitalising human development programmes, fully demonstrated his Government”s commitment to a strong and self-reliant nation to meet the challenges of the next millennium to make India an economic power in the 21st century. Speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 52nd Independence Day, he had said, “I have a vision of India: an India free of hunger and fear, an India free of illiteracy and want.”
Shri Vajpayee participated in the freedom struggle and went to jail in 1942. He was detained during Emergency in 1975-77.
Shri Vajpayee was conferred Padma Vibhushan in 1992 in recognition of his services to the nation. He was also conferred the Lokmanya Tilak Puruskar and the Bharat Ratna Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Award for the Best Parliamentarian, both in 1994. Earlier, the Kanpur University honoured him with an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in 1993.
The Union government has announced the prestigious Bharat Ratna, India”s highest civilian honour, for former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya.
The announcement coincides with Vajpayee”s birthday on December 25 which the government has already declared as the “Good Governance Day”. —Aniket Raja?