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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A True Statesman Called Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Few months back the news around Andhrapradesh Rajbhawan blasted few living day lights out of some individuals. More than the news, the possibility factor shook many. Thanks to N.D.Tiwari and his unforgettable adventure with few call girls, not only blackened the face of Indian politics but also put a serious question mark on the sanity of the Rajbhawan. The same day when Mr.Tiwari, a 85 year old man left no stones unturned in making himself a strong contender to be the brand ambassador of Viagra, in a far corner of the country another gentleman celebrated his 89th birthday as simply as possible.

This is what Atal Bihari Vajpayee is all about. A classic example of 'simple living and high thinking', a true statesman, perhaps the second we had after Lal Bahadur Shastri, a fighter and perhaps a lost hero in many sense.

A true gentleman he being always used to carry that aura around him. The very look of his larger than life image brings about that unquestionable respect which only Atalji deserves. A political life spanning across 7 decades from 1942-2009 is full of exemplary achievements and the value that he always put on every delivery of his. Let it be as no-nonsense when it comes to national security to delivering his speech in Hindi at UN.

His first encounter with politics came during the Quit India movement when he was arrested alongside Shyama Prasad Mookherjee of the Bhartiya Jan Sangh (BJS). His close association with the RSS continued till he resigned in 1979 and joined the mainstream politics which marked the beginning of an era in contemporary politics. After the resignation of Moraji Desai, and the then Janta Dal somewhat disintegrated one man rise from the ashes and along with Lal Krishna Advani and Vero Sing Sikhawat formed the BJP in 1980. Though Atalji being a supporter of the Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple he was dead against the atrocities carried out to Sikhs post Indira Gandhi's massacre in Delhi. He was actively seen rescuing the Sikhs in Delhi during that time. In the first general election of BJP in 1984, they were seen occupying a meager 2 seats in the lower house one being that of Atalji from Gwalior.

From 2 seats to forming a government in 1996, even if for 13 days is no mean achievement. Many would say the Babri Maszid demolition in 1992 did help this tun around but none did recognize the vision this man carried from 1980 to 1996. Unlike other politicians who would have gone for all the horse trading stuff to be in power, Atalji being a true believer of democracy gracefully resigned on the final day of the discussion, when he felt he can't have the majority. This brought about another general election, this time around people's verdict again brought this great man to power only for 13 months which eventually dissolved for one vote after AIADMK chief J.Jayalaitha withdraw the support. The significance in these 13 months is the Pokhran nuclear tests in all adversities and his efforts towards a full scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. In the next election in 1999 Atalji was again bestowed at the helm of affairs and continue a full term, only the second government other than Congress to do so.

Journey from 1999 to 2004 was a dream one where the vision of this great soul came into people's recognition. His 3rd term didn't started very well when in December 1999 an Indian Airlines plane IC-184 was hijacked en route to Kathmandu leaving more than 150 flayers life in the hands of few merciless creatures. Atalji was left with no option but to release few dreaded terrorists in exchange of 150 lives, which many say is a bolt in his otherwise untainted political career. But personally I feel, when we can release 5 terrorists equally dreaded in exchange of the daughter of a Kashmiri politician, then 3 against 150 is always a better bargain.

When it comes to infrastructure development, none would come near Atalji's vision. National Highway Development Project and Pradhan mantri Gram Sadak Yojna are two classic example of it. Thanks to him that we have few set of roads where we now concentrate more on driving than on our car. His government was always under tremendous pressure from their mentor RSS and hard-liner VHP to get into the act of Ram Janam Bhumi and ripping of the article 370 along with enforcing uniform civil code. But far from getting bugged down Atalji kept his concentration on development and social welfare schemes. Atalji shown his ever non-nonsense stand when Tehelka released video footage of Bangaru Laxman taking bribe in a defence deal. He being far from getting linked to this asked the then defence minister George Fernandes to resign on account of Barak Missile scandal, where even Mr.Fernandes was far from being a part of this scandal. The whole idea of making education as a fundamental rite was Atalji's brain child when he launched the Sarba Sikhsya Abhiyan in 2001. Even if the scheme never produced the desired result as envisioned by Atalji, it still manage to change the face of our education system a long way. After the debacle in 2005 election and looking at his deteriorating health, Atalji decided to take retirement from active politics after 2009 and kept his parliamentary seat of Lucknow intact till that point, hence bringing an end to an era of clean politics.

As much you write about this great statesman seems less. I have some firsthand experience of his vision and simplicity. On the sidelines of a RSS meet long back, when I asked for his autograph, I never felt like interacting with a larger than life character. When I requested him to write few lines against his autograph for me, he just smiled at me and wrote something that is still deep in my heart and part of the signature of my E-Mails : "IN LIFE THE BEST AND THE WORST IS STILL TO COME". Hats off to you sire and may God give you a 1000 years life span.

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5 comments :

  1. Nice to know aabout him

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  2. I remember people rushing to a venue in Dehradun where Atalji was supposed to address people...It was pouring heavily but people braved the rain and stood patiently and listened. Can't imagine such following for anyone else

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  3. Thanks for remembering him. His thoughts reflects his height. He told Pakistanis- Let us celebrate 150th anniversary of 1857 jointly. He also floated the idea of common economic block and eventually currency on line of EU. Pokharan was great assertion, but greater was Post Pokhran maneuvering which brought US closer to us despite of(or may be because of Pokharan). Arun Shourie had written about this policy making in Indian Express and that threw more light taking my respect to yet another level.

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  4. NONE TO MATCH HIS CHARISMA.

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