• Somya Maan

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

A Man of the Masses

A poet politician of modern India; a ‘Vikas purush’ in life and a legend in death, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is ionized around the world for his remarkable oratory skills and administrative policies. Holding a BA in Hindi, Sanskrit & English also an MA in Political Science, his administrative policies, righteousness, and duty towards the nation above petty politics displayed his expertise. He is one of the few politicians who is admired by all politicians, regardless of political party, both during and after his life, earning him the moniker 'Ajat-Shatru.'

A Leader in the Making

1924: Atal Bihari was born in Gwalior on December 25.

1939: He joined the RSS as a swayamsevak at the age of 15.

1942: At the age of 18, he was arrested for taking part in the Quit India Movement

1957: He represented the Bharatiya Jana Sangha in his debut election, wherein Nehru made his famous prediction of Vajpayee becoming Prime Minister one day, owing to his oratory skills.

1977: After the emergency, he won the election and was made the Minister of External Affairs in the Moraraji Desai government. Later that year, he became the first person to deliver a speech to the UN General Assembly in Hindi.

1980: With Vajpayee as President, he co-founded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Advani, and was keen on following the path of ‘Gandhian Socialism.’

1984: The BJP was met with terrible timing in the next polls and managed to win only 2 seats in the sympathy wave post- Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

1992: Vajpayee was felicitated with the Padma Vibhushan Award.

The Prime Ministerial Regime(s)

1996: Atal Bihari became the 10th Prime Minister of India, however, for a time span of 13 days only.

1998: He won elections through the NDA and India successfully conducted 5 underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range

1999: The Pokhran tests caused political tremors across the border and he undertook the task of renewing relations with Pakistan and inaugurated the historic Delhi-Lahore Bus Route. In April, Vajpayee lost the No-confidence motion by just 1 vote.

He won the Kargil War as care-taker PM with a calm and tactful approach. Soon he got re-elected with an overwhelming victory and became the first non-congress PM to complete a full term.

A huge crisis that he faced, was the demand for release of a terrorist, Masood Azhar in exchange for hostages when a Kathmandu-bound Air India flight was hijacked.

2001: He was met by ill-health whilst facing internal pressures from the RSS and international tensions created post the Pakistani terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

2003: BJP introduced revolutionary economic reforms like - PM Gram Sadak Yojana (2000), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (2001) and various other schemes.

The End of an Era

2005: Following his loss in the 13th Lok Sabha elections, Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics.

2015: Atal Bihari Vajpayee was commemorated with the highest civilian award - The Bharat Ratna.

2018: His demise on August 16, left an irreparable loss to the entire world of politics.

A remarkable poet, politician and a man without enemies, Vajpayee’s witty remarks and poised political satire won him accolades and the hearts of many.

“Satta ka khel chalega' (the game of power will go on). Governments will come and go. Parties will be made and unmade. [Vajpayee in the Lok Sabha, when his government faced a trust vote in May 1996.]

Somya Maan