Atal Bihari Vajpayee
The 14th Prime Minister of India
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the 14th Prime Minister of India. He was born on 25, December 1926, in Gwalior. The name of his father is Mr. Krishna Behari Vajpayee who was a school teacher.
Mr. Vajpayee did his graduation from Gujarat and post-graduation in political science from The Kanpur University.
He had an early leaning towards the ideology of the RSS which he believed to be in tune with the true nationalistic and patriotic spirit which India sorely needed. Once, at least, during the tenure of his prime ministership, he declared himself to be an RSS” sewak”.
This does not, however, mean any bigoted or fundamentalist tinge in his mental make-up. He is a patriot and nationalist true and simple. When the question of conversions by the Christian missionaries was raised by the RSS, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena, etc., he did not instantly say anything for or against the idea but simply stated that a national debate on this issue was necessary, though, indubitably, he expressed his aversion to forcible or fraudulent conversions.
He became one of the editors of Rashtra Dharam, a magazine devoted to RSS ideology and programmes. He took an active part in the freedom struggle. He jumped into the Quit India Movement in 1942 and spent his days in prison for participating in it.
Later, Mr. Vajpayee also worked as an editor of a number of newspapers including Lucknow-based Dainik Swadesh, Varanasi-based Chetna Saptahik, and Delhi-based Vir Arjuna.
Until this stage, he was a journalist and a freedom fighter. In 1955, however, he contested the Lok Sabha seat from Lucknow but suffered a defeat. He was, however, not the one who would feel frustrated. In 1957 he contested again and this time, he won. He has two stints of membership in the Rajya Sabha, that is, from 1962 to 1967 and from 1986 to 1989.
It was during his presidency that Jana Sangh got merged into the Janata Party in 1977. He said that the Jana Sangh had to make this great sacrifice in the national interest. Later, the split in the Janata Party brought about the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the chief component of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre. He was the President of the BJP when he was jailed during Internal Emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
During the Janata Party rule, he was made the Foreign Minister in 1977. He returned to India when China indulged in some anti-India activity when he was on a visit to that country. He attended the UN General Assembly sessions in 1988, 1990 to 1994, and 1996 as a delegate. He made the world wonder when he addressed the UN General Assembly in Hindi.
First Prime Ministership
He got the Padma Vibhushan Award in 1992. In 1994 he got the Best Parliamentarian Award. He became the Prime Minister of India on 16th May, 1996 for the first time. But having lost the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, he had to resign only after 13 days.
Second Prime Ministership and Pokhran II
It was on March 19, 1998, that he became the Prime Minister for the second time. It was during this tenure that he brought about the Pokhran II tests on 11, May and 13, May 1998. Once again this coalition government lost the majority in the Lok Sabha as AIADMK headed by Ms. Jayalalitha withdrew its support.
Third Prime Ministership
He became the Prime Minister for the third time on 13, October 1999. As such, he is the fourteenth Prime Minister of India.
Lahore Bus Service
As Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee is known for his for grit and compassion both equally counterpoised. He started the Lahore bus service to bring about amity between India and Pakistan. He also became instrumental in bringing into existence the Lahore Declaration which was genuinely intended to establish everlasting peace between the two countries.
Unfortunately, when Mr. Vajpayee was signing the Lahore Declaration with Mr. Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the army top brass (including the present President of Pakistan, Mr. Pervez Musharraf) were busy preparing schemes for the Kargil misadventure.
When the Kargil conflict did come into being in 1999, Mr. Vajpayee turned out to be a man of steel who frustrated all Pakistani designs.
Mr. Vajpayee has proved successful on all fronts including home, social, economic, defence, and external affairs, though our country being too vast, multiple, and pluralistic, full success can only be a mire to even a most competent dignitary at the helm of affairs. Sometimes, he is charged with the habit of dithering. But, it is to be noted, that he deems it essential to ponder over all pros and cons of a matter before jumping to any conclusion or rushing to take action. Moreover, he is a true democrat who would not behave like an autocrat. Thus he considers consensus and others’ opinions in every matter very important.
He is a great lover of the poor and has started several schemes like pensions, free or subsidized ration, housing grants, loans, employment loans, subsidies, etc., for the deserving poor.
He has given a slogan:
“Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan”.
As a poet
He is a true patriot and as such he is giving full attention towards making India a great economic and military power. He is fighting heroically the problems of terrorism, poverty, unemployment, communal disharmony, illiteracy, disease, etc.
He is also a great poet. His famous collection of poems is-
Meri Ekyavan Kavitayen.
May he live long to guide the destiny of our country!