Former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of India’s most charismatic and tallest leaders who led the nation through several crises while holding together a tenuous coalition with his inclusive politics and superlative oratory, was the founder President of BJP and beloved leader of millions till today.
It was this nationalist stalwart Shri Atalji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a developed, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century, for which his popularity was cut across party lines. His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India.
It was due to the perseverance and struggles of Atal Ji that the BJP was built brick by brick. He travelled across the length and breadth of India to spread BJP’s message, which led the party to become a strong force in Indian national polity.
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on 25 December, 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to a schoolteacher, Shri Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Smt. Krishna Devi. His birthday is celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ throughout the country.
After schooling, he graduated from Victoria College in Gwalior, now known as Laxmi Bai College. He did his M.A. in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur. He became a full-time worker of RSS in 1947.
Shri Vajpayee, who joined the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangha (RSS) in 1947 rose through ranks to become a stalwart of the BJP. Shri Vajpayee’s signature in politics was achieving pragmatic consensus, and in this process he earned the respect of his party, allies and opponents. Abroad, he projected a harmonious image of India and connected it to the world through his foreign policy outreach. He remained a Member of Parliament for 47 years — elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha and twice to Rajya Sabha.
A lifelong bachelor, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh in India’s second general elections. His maiden speech in Parliament so impressed the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues in Lok Sabha that Nehru introduced Shri Vajpayee to a visiting foreign dignitary thus: “This young man one day will become the country’s Prime Minister.”
In 1975, Shri Vajpayee was arrested along with several other opposition leaders during the Internal Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congress party. Emergency ended in 1977. Coalition parties, including the BJS came together to form the Janata Party, which won the subsequent general elections. Shri Morarji Desai, the chosen leader of the alliance, became the Prime Minister and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the Minister of External Affairs, in Shri Desai’s cabinet. As foreign minister, Shri Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi in 1977.
Shri Vajpayee resigned from his post in 1979. The erstwhile members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh came together to form the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980, with Shri Vajpayee as its first President.
Shri Vajpayee rose through ranks to become a stalwart of the BJP and was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in office. In 1996 Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee first became Prime Minister leading a shaky coalition government. It lasted for just 13 days and collapsed after losing a vote of no-confidence.
His second stint as Prime Minister was in 1998 when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) again came to power but that lasted for 13 months. Finally, the BJP led NDA with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM returned to power in 1999 and completed a full turn in office till 2004.
This great son of the soil left for his heavenly abode at the age of 93 on 16 August, 2018 in New Delhi.
Shat Shat Naman!
[Jayanti, 25 December]
Kamal Sandesh Parivar pays tribute to former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his Jayanti.