Home » Atal Bihari Vajpayee : The “Bhishma Pitamah” of Indian politics

Atal Bihari Vajpayee : The “Bhishma Pitamah” of Indian politics

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Er. Prabhat Kishore
“My poetry is a declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier’s drumbeat of despair, but the fighting warrior’s will to win. It is not the dispirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory”.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the “Bhishma Pitamah” of Indian politics as described by ex-PM Manmohan Singh, made his poetry a messenger to spread his vision on various burning issues. The oratorical skill of Atalji in Lok Sabha impressed Nehruji so much that he proclaimed him as the future PM of India. He was a multifaceted & versatile personality and made significant contributions to social, political, educational, literacy and journalism.
Born on 25th December 1924 in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Atalji was a great statesman who dedicated his life for the nationalist politics. He served as Prime Minister of India thrice, first for a term of 13 days in 1986, secondly for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, and thirdly for a full term from 1999 to 2004.
In 1946, Atalji took over the responsibility of the first editor of the Hindi dainik “Rashtra Dharma” published from Lucknow. In 1950, he became the editor of “Dainik Sandesh”. After the closure of “Sandesh” due to financial crisis, he became the editor of Dainik “Vir Arjun” and weekly “Panchjanya” published from Delhi. His editorials were so aspirational that readers used to first read the editorial and then any other news & views.
In 1951, he was engaged by RSS in strengthening of the newly formed Right wing political party “Jan Sangh”. Lateron he became the private secretary of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukharjee. In 1955, he contested the Lok Sabha bi-election unsuccessfully from Lucknow, which fell vacant due to the resignation of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. In 1957, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh). He served as member of Parliament for over five decades, being elected ten times to the Lok Sabha and two times to the Rajya Sabha.
After the demise of Deen Dayal Upadhyay in 1968, he became the President of “Jan Sangh” and strengthen the Party’s root at national level in co-operation with Balraj Madhok, Nanaji Deshmukh, Lal Krishna Advani& others. In 1977, the Jan Sangh was merged with the newly constituted “Janata Party”. In 1980, Jan Sangh background cadres parted away from the Janata Party and formed a new political outfit Bharatiya Janata Party with Atalji as its first President.
When the Janata Party came to power in 1977, Atalji became the Foreign Minister. He created history by addressing the United Nations in Hindi. In the 1996 general election, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha and Atalji was sworn in as PM on the Westminster system; but he had to resign within 13 days as the BJP failed to muster the majority mark. In the 1998 Lok Sabha election, the BJP again become the single largest party and this time it formed National Democratic Alliance with 23 parties. Vajpayee took oath as the PM for second time, but due to withdrawal of support by the AIADMK, he resigned and the Lok Sabha was dissolved. In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, the BJP led NDA secured a comfortable majority with 303 seats out of 543 and Atalji become the PM for the third time. In 2004, the Lok Sabha was dissolved six months before the completion of its term and NDA was ousted from power in the general election.
During the tenure of Vajpayee’s Prime Ministership, a large number of works with national and international character have been carried out. In 1988, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran to weaponise its nuclear capability. In February 1999, the Delhi-Lahore bus service was inaugurated. In May 1999, Pakistani militants & Northern Light Infantry soldiers of Pakistan had taken control of the hilltop centered around Kargil. The Indian Army recaptured the areas through “Operation Vijay”. Three new states Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand came up on the Indian map.
The Vajpayee government introduced several new schemes in the infrastructure and educational sectors. National Highway Development Project (NHDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) have been planned & implemented. In the first phase of NHDP, 5846 KM long Golden Quadrilateral (Swarnim Chaturbhuj) for connecting four Metro cities namely Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai & Mumbai with 4/6 lane expressway has been built. In the second phase of NHDP, 4000 KM long North-South Corridor connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and 3300 KM long East-West Corridor connecting Porbandar to Silchar has been constructed. PMGSY is the infrastructure plan to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. In the railway sector seven new zones namely East Central Railway (Hajipur), East Coast Railway (Bhubaneshwar), North Central Railway (Prayagraj), North Western Railway (Jaipur), South East Central Railway (Bilaspur), South Western Railway (Hubli), and West Central Railway (Jabalpur) were created for smooth operation. In 2001-02, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme was launched for universalization of elementary education in a time-bound manner.
Atalji was a great educationist & poet. In 1942, as an Inter student he gained name & fame by chanting his famous poem “Hindu Tan Man Hindu Jiwan, Rag Rag Hindu MeraParichay” in his own style at Kali Charan College Lucknow. He contributed to the literary world with his creative writings, of which some memorable ones are “Mrityuya Hatya”, “Amar Balidan”, “Kaidi Kaviraiki Kundalian”, “Amar Aaghai”, “Rajnitiki Raptili Rahen”, “Bindu Bindu Vichar”, “Secularvad”, “Meri Sansadiya Yatra”, “Suvasit Pushpa”, “Sanklap Kal”, “Shakti se Shanti”, “Na Daityamna Palayanam”, “Nayee Chunauti Naya Awasar” and “Meri Ekyawan Kavitayen”.
Atalji was honoured as “Sarva Shreshtha Sansad” on 17th August 1994. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan on 25th January 1992 and the “Bharat Ratna”, India’s highest civilian honour, on 25th January 2014. In 2015, the Bangla Desh Government honoured him with “Friends of Bangla Desh Liberation War Award”.
Atalji had the knack of building great friendships across political divide. He was a thinker, editor, poet, fearless writer and nationalist who used to inspire people. He breathed his last on 16th August 2018 after year long illness. Atalji will always be memorable for the Indian masses as he has enlightened the path of Indian politics for nearly half decade through his merit, constructive leadership, nationalist vision, strong willpower, political proficiency and popularity.
(The author is a technocrat & academician. He holds Master in Engineering from M.N. Regional Engineering College, Allahabad/Prayagraj)

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