On August 16, 2018, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a stately Indian politician, breathed his last; and the nation was stricken with grief. Indeed, there were large crowds of people who came to pay their last respects to the departed soul.
Owing to Atalji’s immense contribution to India during his years in active politics, he was well-respected amongst his fraternity; and furthermore, dearly loved by one and all. In fact, he was referred to as “Ajaat Shatru” that means ‘one who has no enemies’. Also, he was hailed as the ‘poet politician’ and ‘gentle giant’.
His love for poetry was depicted during his speeches; and coupled with his master oratory skills, he was able to make his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a rather successful one.
During his lifetime, Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India 3 times. However, during the years 1996 and 1998, he served as India’s PM for only 13 days and 13 months respectively. But, he held the highest office of India for the full term through the years 1999 to 2004; while being the first non-Congress President to achieve the feat.
Spanning his political career of 40 years, he had been elected to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, 10 times and 2 times respectively. During the year 2009, he took retirement from active politics due to health concerns. He was serving as a Member of Parliament, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, when he decided to retire.
As part of his political career, he was the President of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), an organization of which he was one of the founding members, through the years 1968 to 1972. The BJS allied with several other parties to form the Janata Dal party that was victorious during the year 1977 election. From the years 1977 to 1979, Atalji served as the Minister of External Affairs under the guidance of India’s then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. However, in the year 1979, Vajpayee resigned; thereafter, the Janata Dal disbanded as well. Thereafter, the former BJS members colluded to form the Bharatiya Janata Party in the year 1980; Vajpayee was the BJP’s first party president.
Atalji made an immense contribution to India. In fact, he is accredited for making India a nuclear country because he showed spine in conducting the Pokhran-II nuclear tests during the year 1998, in the face of stiff opposition by countries such as US and China. There were American satellites hovering in Pokhran’s skyline, but even then, the tests were carried out at Rajasthan’s Pokhran district in India and successfully too. Vajpayee’s cabinet took the help of scientists to dodge the satellites for effectively conducting India’s second nuclear program; the first nuclear tests in India were carried out during the year 1974 and were only partially successful.
As part of his attempts to cement ties with India’s long-standing enemy nation, Pakistan, he embarked on a bus journey to Lahore for a meeting with the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. Moreover, post India’s Kargil war with Pakistan – a battle that India won – he invited Pakistan’s then-serving President Pervez Musharraf for the Agra Summit; but, nothing was gained during the event.
To recognize Atalji’s achievements, in the year 2015, the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, conferred Vajpayee with the Bharat Ratna, which is regarded as India’s highest civilian honor.
Moreover, on 25th December in the year 2014, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, proclaimed that the stipulated date, which was Vajpayee’s birthday, would be commemorated as ‘Good Governance Day’.
Atalji was 93 years when he died; as a result of age-linked factors. His birth-date is 25th December 1924; his birthplace, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Nonetheless, Atalji, the loved and respected leader, continues to live in the hearts of the people who belong to the country that has much to thank him for – India.