By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
I remember the first words of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was sworn as the 16th Prime Minister of India which was certainly more solemn than cheerful. ‘’I have a pledge to redeem, and a promise to fulfill. ‘’Vajpayee was born into a high-caste Brahmin family in Gwalior, on Dec. 25, 1925. He was barely 15, but already steeped in Marxism, when a friend took him to a meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Service), a neo-fascist organization that has been the guiding force behind Hindu nationalism for much of this century. After entering the politics of the country, he climbed up step by step and now he is the spotless meticulous statesman of the Indian politics. He was the first politician, who addressed the U.N.O. in Hindi on 4th October, 1977. He was adorned with “Padma Vibhushan” by the Indian Govt. on 25th January, 1992. This was followed by another honor bestowed upon him by the U.P. Hindi Sansthan on 28thSeptember, 1992. And then on 16th August, 1994 “Govind Vallabh Pant Award” was conferred upon him for his being the Best Parliamentarian.
He was the first Prime Minister of India who is regarded as non-controversial heart-throb of the country. He was held in high esteem not only by his party men but also by other members of the Indian polity. Undoubtedly, he was a great orator. He stood out to be a distinguished man in respect of his choice of words, effective pauses in between, sweet touch of sarcasm and humour, the style of speaking and above all, the quality of judging the moods of his listeners. Vajpayee’s problem was that he proved to be more popular with the 344 million voters than did the Hindu nationalist movement, for which he has been the principal parliamentary standard bearer for 30 years. After coming into power Vajpayee had to face problems but he faced all the problems with courage and sincerity. He took many ups and downs in his political life with great equanimity and bears malice towards none. He was among the very few politicians who knew how to respect the viewpoint of their opponents. The poet turned politician achieved such as successful nuclear Pokharan-2 test, winning of Kargil war, starting of golden quadrilateral national expressway, growth rate of 5 percent or above per annum. Undoubtedly, he was a successful prime minister but his tenure experienced certain failures such as Indian airlines hijack by Taliban, attack of terrorists on parliament and riots in Gujarat. He was a great leader and one of the tallest politician of India and the world. Even enemies have liked his oratory skill and diplomacy. The way he maintained dignity in the Parliament was commendable.
For many observers Vajpayee’s successful navigation of what was called an “unwieldy coalition” was his biggest achievement; others praised his optimistic foreign policy while others applaud India’s economy under his rule.
He was one of the first to voice India’s opposition to the unequal Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and he made it clear that his country would sign NPT only when the nuclear power gave convincing evidence of their desire to ban and destroy nuclear weapons. He was also passionate about his desire to ‘’see India take its place as a great nation,’’ with a nuclear weapons arsenal commensurate to its size. He said “We have the capacity for a big bomb now. Ours will never be weapons of aggression.”
He shared a special relationship with Lucknow, which he represented for a record five terms in the Lok Sabha, before illness forced him out of active politics since 2009.Though he was a staunch and devout Hinduan epitome of Hindu tradition- yet the people of minority communities repose their unassailable confidence in him. In a move led by him, it tried to reach out to the country’s 140 million Muslims to assuage their fears of being treated as second-class citizens. Those who have known Vajpayee for years say that for him the RSS was his alma mater where he had learnt the lessons of life and which had made a man of him. He once wrote, “[the] Sangh is my soul”. But as a practical man, he was not ready to be dictated to by the Sangh on every move that he made and every step that he took.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had once introduced Vajpayee to Winston Churchill as the future Prime Minister of this country who travelled a long way to emerge as India’s towering politician, a leader who commanded respect and admiration not only of his party men but even of his rivals, not to speak of millions of his admirers across the world. The man was loved for his qualities of head and heart, his poetry, his integrity boldness, patriotism, qualities of forget and forgive, and the principle of consensus. He was one of the few who can brave the worst travails in life and political career, and came out unscathed. He was an eminent national leader, an erudite politician, a selfless social worker, forceful orator, poet, journalist and indeed a multifaceted personality. He was an ideal for the masses. The message that clearly sprinted from his deeds was that even under the most trying circumstances we must never lose our values that have so long been our guiding star. As a parliamentarian he had been a member of Lok Sabha nine times and of Rajya Sabha twice. He transformed the Indian growth story. Interestingly the maximum drop in inflation happened during his tenure. His strong will power led to make country nuclear power. His dreams of providing quadruplicate connectivity to India with highways changed people’s lives across country. Interlinking Rivers in country will prove a boon for country in removing water scarcity throughout country.
His exemplary service & leadership has had a very positive impact on India’s growth trajectory. Staying in the politics for more than 60 years as active politician, both in opposition and the ruling party and retiring from it without any allegation on the character is one rare achievement. From an insignificant political player to a key leader, Vajpayee will be known for his several contributions. From leading a delegation at United Nations to introducing Lahore bus service to raising Kashmir issue, Vajpayee has really won the hearts of Indians and even opposition. Vajpayee was an outstanding artist, eminent poet and a true leader who always stood for the cause of the poor and downtrodden classes of society. Vajpayee’s name will be written in golden letters in the history of India.
Homage to BJP stalwart Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee
By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit