Saturday, 13 April, 2024

Bharat Ratna Vajpayee : A Man of Masses

93 year old Former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee
(25 December, 1924 – 16 August, 2018)
By Ram Bahadur Rai
Newswave@ New Delhi
At a time when the nation is mourning the sad demise of former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji, some heart-wrenching memories waft through my mind with sempervirent sensorium.
It was way back in May, 1963 I heard Vajpayee ji for the first time at a Jaunpur rally. I was then a high school student, Earlier, I was of the view that Sarju Pandey the local Parliamentarian from the CPI Party was the best orator. But, the moment I haerd Vajpayee I was spell bound by his oratory. Such was his magnetic speech that everyone present at the rally was getting a sense as if they were going from marvel to marvel.
The rally had been organised for the electioneering of Pt Deen Dayal Upadhaya who was contesting the Lok Sabha poll for the constituency.
My classmate Prabal Singh insisted me to go that rally. I alongwith my 10-15 friends reached the venue riding on the bicycles. Vajpayee ji has the power the soothe the savage beast with his words and presentations. People cutting across political parties and ideologies were ardent fans of his oratory. His speeches could leave a lasting impact on everybody irrespection of ideologies.
I happened to meet Vajpayee ji in March-April, 1968 at Rajendra Prasadd Road in Delhi. Lal Muni Chowbey, who was accompanying me, had been suspended from Jan Sangh. Vajpayee Ji was the president of the party. We exchanged words and Vajpayee Ji listened to us with rapt attention, though we never ever come across him prior to this meeting. He asked Ashwini Kumar, the then organisng secretary, Jan Sangh from Bihar to take back the orders of his suspension.
I came to know about the stature and persona of Vajpayee Ji in 1982-1983 when the infamous Neilly massacre took place in Assam. He was a peeved lot at the incident. He asked me to have a word with several organisations to arrange medicines for the victims. And, we did what he wanted us to do.
Vajpayee ji was always spearheaded the cause for a debate on secularism. When he became the Prime Minister, he set up a commission led by the then Supreme Court Chief Justice N. Venkatchallaiya for the review of the Constitution of India. He was like a beacon light in pioneering the cause of secularism.
A man of masses, veteran leader and Former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away this evening in New Delhi. The 93 year old veteran leader breathed his last at AIIMS where he was admitted in June this year for treatment. After remaining in hospital for last 9 weeks, his condition worsened on Wednesday and he was put on life support system.
An eminent national leader
 
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy as Prime Minister is a rich one that will be remembered and cherished even a decades later. It included the Pokhran-2 nuclear tests, astute and forward looking economic policies, massive infrastructure projects like development of national highways are some of them.
An ardent champion of women’s empowerment and social equality, Vajpayee believed in a forward-looking and fast moving India, a strong and prosperous nation confident of its rightful place in the comity of nations. Vajpayee was an eminent national leader, an erudite politician, a selfless social worker, forceful orator, poet and litterateur, journalist and indeed a multi-faceted personality.
Bharat Ratna in 2015
Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister first in May 1996 for 13 days and again in March 1998 to 2004. With his swearing-in as Prime Minister after the Lok Sabha polls of October 1999, he became the first and only person since Jawaharlal Nehru to occupy the office of the Prime Minister of India through three successive Lok Sabhas. He was awarded the India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 2015.
The country’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, was conferred upon him in recognition of his selfless dedication to his first and only love, India, and his more than half-a-century of service to society and the nation. In 1994, he was named India’s ‘Best Parliamentarian.’
93 year old, Vajpayee was born on 25th December 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He was the son of Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Krishna Devi. Vajpayee’s first brush with nationalist politics was in his student days, when he joined the Quit India Movement of 1942 which hastened the end of British colonial rule.
A student of political science and law, it was in college that he developed a keen interest in foreign affairs. He had embarked upon a journalist’s career, which was cut short in 1951 when he joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the fore-runner of today’s Bharatiya Janata Party. A critically acclaimed poet, Vajpayee was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957 and had a long parliamentary experience spanning over four decades. He was elected to the Lok Sabha nine times and two times for the Rajya Sabha.
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