Atal Bihari Vajpayee – The Visionary who built modern India

 Atal Bihari Vajpayee – The Visionary who built modern India

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born in the year 1924 on 25th December, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was an Indian diplomat and politician who was elected as our Prime Minister in the year 1996 for only thirteen days and then for a full term, in the year 1999. He was one of the co-founders and also the senior most leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is regarded as the first Indian prime minister who was not from the Indian National Congress party to serve a full term in the office. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is also a renowned poet. Unfortunately, he had passed away in the 2018 on 16th of August, but like people say, “there are people who create a bond with your soul” and one of the best examples of this line is former prime minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sir himself.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born into a Hindu Brahmin family in Gwalior Madhya Pradesh, he finished his schooling in Madhya Pradesh and then went on to pursue his higher studies from Gwalior’s Victoria College (now Maharani Laxmi Bai Govt. College of Excellence), where he had chosen to do BA in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He also did a post-graduation in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s activism can be traced back to the British rule, his first activist movement was his participation in the Arya Samaj Movement of which he later became the General Secretary in 1944. Atal Bihari Vajpayee joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1939 as a volunteer, under the influence of Babasaheb Apte. He also attended the Officers Training Camp of the RSS during 1940 to 1944, and became a pracharak (the RSS terminology for a full-time worker) in 1947. He gave up his law studies due to the partition riots that were frequent then. After a prolonged discussion in the RSS, he was sent to Uttar Pradesh as a vistarak (a probationary pracharak, like the RSS call) and soon began working for the newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, who published the newspaper Rashtradharma (which was a Hindi monthly newspaper), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly newspaper), and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun.

At the age of 16 years, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had become an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He was appointed as a national secretary of the BJP party in charge of the Northern region in 1951, based in Delhi. He soon became a follower and aide of party leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee. In 1957 he contested for the General election but lost to Raja Mahendra Pratap in Mathura, but was elected from Balrampur. In the Lok Sabha his oratorial skills impressed the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru  so much that he predicted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee would someday become the prime minister of India. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s oratorial skills won him the reputation of being the most eloquent defender of the Jana Sangh’s policies. After the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the leadership of the Jana Sangh was passed to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He became the national president of the Jana Sangh in 1968, and ran the party along with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok, and L. K. Advani.

In the year 1977 a coalition of parties, including the BJPS, came together to form the Janata Party, which won the 1977 general elections. Morarji Desai, had been the chosen leader of the alliance, & became the prime minister, Vajpayee served as the minister of external affairs, or foreign minister, in Desai’s cabinet, and thus starting his career of ministry. As a foreign minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the first person in 1977 to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. It was under his rule that in May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran desert in Rajasthan, 24 years after its first nuclear test (Smiling Buddha) In 1974. This event had led to various controversies, it started with the response, of Pakistan who responded with its own nuclear tests making it the newest nation with declared nuclear capability. While some nations, such as France, endorsed India’s right to defensive nuclear power, others including the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain and the European Union, also imposed sanctions on information, resources and technology to India. In spite of this intense international criticism and steady decline in foreign investment and trade, Vajpayee still maintained his calm and made the nuclear tests popular domestically.

Due to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s strong presence of mind the international sanctions imposed failed to sway India from weaponizing its nuclear capability. US sanctions against India and Pakistan were eventually lifted after just six months. This is only one act and diplomatic achievement of Vajpayee; he has many such achievements like the Lahore Declaration incident where Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan. This peace declaration also helped to ease the tension created by the 1998 nuclear tests, not only within the two nations but also in South Asia and the rest of the world. The most known and dreaded Kargil war was also handled by him. According to reports as been published by the papers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had sent a “secret letter” to the U.S. President Bill Clinton that if Pakistani infiltrators did not withdraw from the Indian territory, “we will get them out, one way or the other” – meaning he did not rule out crossing the Line of Control (LoC), or the use of nuclear weapons. India under his guidance and with the help of its brave warriors, secured more than 70% of the territory that was captured by the invaders and also managed to restore the places to its former glory.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee should not only be acclaimed as a Prime Minister but also for his contributions in the literary world, he was a noted poet who has written quite a few poetries and proses in the Hindi language. One of his famous book is Kaidi Kaviraj Ki Kundalian, which has a collection of poems. Due to his immense contribution in various domains Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been honoured with Bharat Ratna in 2015 and Padma Vibhushan in 1992. He has also been honoured by Recipient of the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour from Bangladesh in the year 2016 and Grand Cordon of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite from the Morocco Government on 13th February 1999. Atal Bihari Vajpayee has also been awarded with D. Lit. from Kanpur University in the year 1993, in 1994 he was awarded with the Lokmanya Tilak Award, he was also awarded the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 1994. Lastly, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant Award in 1994.

Along with all these awards and honours Atal Bihari Vajpayee has also been ranked as number 9 in Outlook magazine’s poll of The Greatest Indian in the year 2012. Naya Raipur had been renamed as Atal Nagar in August 2018 to honour him and four Himalayan peaks near Gangotri glacier were renamed after his name to honour him in October 2018.

Lastly quoting the very remarkable man, “Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity.” All we have left to say now is this that, we pledge to finish that unfulfilled dream of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and we refuse to give up no matter how many times we are defeated, because he has taught us to face both victory and defeat with equanimity and proceed towards future. 

Bitati Kar

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