December 23, 2020

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The “Sarvamanya” leader

“My poetry is a declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier’s drumbeat of despair, but the fighting warrior’s will to win. It is not the dispirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory”.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the “Bhishma Pitamah” of Indian politics as described by ex-PM Manmohan Singh, made his poetry a messenger to spread his vision on various burning issues. The oratorical skill of Atalji in Lok Sabha so much impressed Nehruji that he proclaimed him as future PM of India. He was a multifaceted & versatile personality and made significant contribution to social, political, educational, literacy and journalism. Born on 25th December 1924 at Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) Atalji was a great statesman who dedicated his life for the nationalist politics. He served three times as Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1986, secondly for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, and thirdly for a full term from 1999 to 2004. In 1946,Atalji took responsibility of first editor of Hindi dainik “Rashtra Dharma” published from Lucknow. In 1950, he become of editor of “Dainik Sandesh”. After closure of “Sandesh” due to financial crisis, he become editor of Dainik “Vir Arjun” and weekly “Panchjanya” published from Delhi. His editorials were so aspirational that readers used to read editorial first and then any other news& views. In 1951, he was engaged by RSS in the strengthening of newly formed Right wing political party “Jansangh”. Lateron he became private secretary of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukharjee. In 1955, he contested Lok Sabha bi-election unsuccessfully from Lukhnow, which fell vacant due to resignation of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. In 1957, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh). He served as member of Parliament for over five decades, ten times elected to Lok Sabha and two times to Rajya Sabha. After demise of Deen Dayal Upadhyay in 1968, he became President of “Jansangh” and strengthen the Party’s root at national level in co-operation with Balraj Madhok, Nanaji Deshmukh, Lal Krishna Advani & others. In 1977, Jansangh was merged with newly constituted “Janata Party”. In 1980, Jansangh background cadres parted away from Janata Party and formed a new political outfit Bharatiya Janata Party with Atalji as its first President.
In 1977, when Janata Party came to power, Atalji became Foreign Minister. He created history by addressing United Nations in Hindi. In 1996 general election, BJP emerged as single largest party in Lok Sabha and Atalji was sworn in as PM on Westminster system; but he had to resign within 13 days as BJP failed to muster majority mark. In 1998 Lok Sabha election, BJP again become largest party and this time it formed National Democratic Alliance with 23 parties. Vajpayee took oath of PM second time, but due to withdrawal of support by AIADMK, he resigned and the Lok Sabha was dissolved. In 1999 Lok Sabha election, BJP led NDA secured comfortable majority with 303 seats out of 543 and Atalji become PM third time. In 2004, Lok Sabha was dissolved six monthsbefore the completion of its termand in the general election NDA was ousted from power. During the tenure of Vajpayee’s Prime Ministership, a large number of works with national and international character have been carried out. In 1988, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhranfor weaponising its nuclear capability. In February 1999, Delhi-Lahore bus service was inaugurated. In May 1999, Pakistani militants& Northern Light Infantry soldiers of Pakistan had taken control of hilltop centered around Kargil. Indian Army recaptured the areas through “Operation Vijay”. Three new states Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand came up on Indian map. Vajpayee government introduced several new schemes in infrastructure and educational sectors. National Highway Development Project (NHDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) have been planned& implemented. In first phase of NHDP, 5846 KM long Swarnim Chaturbhuj (Golden Quadrilateral) for connecting four Metro cities namely Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai & Mumbai with 4/6 lane expressway has been built. In the second phase of NHDP, 4000 KM long North-South Corridor connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and 3300 KM long East-West Corridor connecting Porbandar to Silchar has been constructed. PMGSY is the infrastructure plan to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. In railway sector seven new zones namely East Central Railway (Hajipur), East Coast Railway (Bhubaneshwar), North Central Railway (Prayagraj), North Western Railway (Jaipur), South East Central Railway (Bilaspur), South Western Railway (Hubli), and West Central Railway (Jabalpur) were created for smooth operation. In 2001-02, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme was launched for universalization of elementary education in a time-bound manner. Atalji was a great educationist & poet. He contributed the literature world with his creative writings, of which some memorable ones are “Mrityu ya Hatya”, “Amar Balidan”, “Kaidi Kavirai ki Kundalian”, “Amar Aag hai”, “Rajniti ki Raptili Rahen”, “Bindu Bindu Vichar”, “Secularvad”, “Meri Sansadiya Yatra”, “Suvasit Pushpa”, “Sanklap Kal”, “Shakti se Shanti”, “Na Daityam na Palayanam”, “Nayee Chunauti Naya Awasar” and “Meri Ekyawan Kavitayen”. Atalji was honoured as “Sarva Shreshtha Sansad” on 17th August 1994. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan on 25th January 1992 and India’s highest civilian honour “Bharat Ratna” on 25th January 2014. In 2015, Bangla Desh Government honoured him with “Friends of Bangla Desh Liberation war Award”. Atalji had the knack of building great friendships across political divide. He was a thinker, editor, poet, fearless writer and nationalist who used to inspire people. He took his last breath on 16th August 2018 after year long illness. Atalji will always be memorable for the Indian masses as has enlightened the path of Indian politics for nearly half decade through his merit, constructive leadership, nationalist vision, strong willpower, political proficiency and popularity.
(Author is a technocrat and academician. Views are exclusively his own)

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