Bhubaneswar: Millions burst into tears when news came in from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) announcing death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this evening.
His demise could be termed as an ‘end of an era’ as the country lost one of its greatest leaders who won hearts of all with his writings and service to the Nation as a strong politician whether remaining in opposition or in the power.
Vajpayee, who did not had second thought to give nod to the Pokhran-II, a series of five nuclear bombs tested by India at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range during his tenure in May 1998, was battling for life at the AIIMS.
He was hospitalised on June 11 after he was diagnosed with urinary track infection (UTI), low urine output and chest congestion. He was on life support system for more than 36 hours. However, the team of doctors at AIIMS failed to save him.
Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India thrice (first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1998 to 2004).
He was elected to the lower house Lok Sabha ten times and twice to the upper house Rajya Sabha. He was among the founding members of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Later, along with his close aides LK Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, he formed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. He left other politicians stunned for his strong oratory and organisational skills.
There were reports that the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had seen talents and abilities within Vajpayee and predicted him to become India’s Prime Minister someday.
Vajpayee was popular among mass as well the leaders in politics. Literally, he ruled everyone’s hearts even outside the power corridor.
Born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee attended his schooling at Saraswati Shishu Mandir, pursued postgraduation (PG) in Political Science at DAV College in Kanpur. He joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939. Strongly influenced by Babasaheb Apte, he became the pracharak of the organisation.
Prior to joining politics, Vajpayee had started his career as a journalist. He was working for the newspapers –‘Rashtradharma’ (a Hindi monthly), ‘Panchjanya’ (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies like ‘Swadesh’ and ‘Veer Arjun’.
He emerged as the strong critic of Congress party during Internal Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. Vajpayee became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s cabinet after the Janata Party came to power in 1977 Lok Sabha elections. He was the first person to deliver speech at the United Nations in Hindi language representing India as the foreign minister. He was the voice of Ram Janmabhoomi revolution to build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Kargil war was an important chapter added to the Indian history during his tenure as the Prime Minister in 1999. His strong decision to fight the war against Pakistani soldiers, who had infiltrated into India and captured the hilltops in Kashmir, was lauded by the people of the country.
However, he was blamed by the opposition parties for his decision to release dreaded terrorists to Afghanistan after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked carrying several passengers from Kathmandu to New Delhi. The government under pressure was bound to hand over 5 terrorists to the Talibans to free the passengers.
He is best known for his foreign policies, developmental projects and economic reforms during his tenure.
The history witnessed his electrifying speech during floor test at the Parliament in 1996. The memorable speech revealed that he was not greedy for power. He assured the House to support to the government for smooth conduct of the proceedings sitting in opposition to save the democracy of India.
As the writer and poet, Vajpayee had showed the society the reality of life and true meaning of patriotism. The recitation of poems during several events reflected his clean personality.
He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan (the second highest civilian award) in 1992 and Bharat Ratna (the highest civilian award) in 2015 for his contribution to the country.