The country lost a tall Statesman, a veteran Politician, an inspiring Leader, a prolific Writer, an Apostle of Peace, an Orator of par Excellence
A man defiant in the face of defeats and time, a charismatic leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee dawned a new era in the history of India. His unabated intellectual proficiency brought recognition and respect in the rising nationalistic movement in the country. His pursuit for peace with neighbouring nations, nuclear tests and disarmaments during his Premiership, made him an iconic status in the world forum. And believed that democracy is “the best guarantor of peace and cooperation among nations”
BY SADANANDA DAS
“Death is no greater than life” – this was the thought and belief of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart who silently passed away at the age of 93 on Thursday, the 16th August 2018 at 5.05 pm at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as he was put on life-support systems for hours together. Despite the doctors best effort, he at last succumbed to death.
Knowing about his unstable and critical condition, all most all leaders of the political parties visited the AIIMS in the morning, a few hours before his grim death. Among the notables is L K Advani a veteran BJP leader, Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, Amit Shah, the BJP President and the Congress President Rahul Gandhi, visited the AIIMS and prayed for his convalescence.
The entire nation immersed in great sorrow and remorse on hearing the sad demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” a valiant who never taste of death but once” and thus the “Atal Raj” came to end. The people started pouring in from all corners of the country to have the last glimpse of the ‘Ajat Shatru’, a leader of all ages and a guiding star.
In the dusky evening, the mortal remains of the Bharat Ratna was driven from his residence to BJP Head Quarter in New Delhi for final tribute and the last rites were performed at Rashtriya Smiriti Sthal at Vijay Ghat at 4 pm. It was decided to erect a ‘Samadhi’ as a fond remembrance of the son of the soil.
In 1996 Atal Bihari Vajpayee assumed the office of Prime Minister which was short-lived and thereupon on October 13, 1999 took over the charge as the Prime Minister for the second consecutive term and being the second to have three successive mandates ever since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Respected as a veteran parliamentarian his political career stretches for more than four decades establishing his presence both in Lok Sabha for ten times and twice in Rajya Sabha, is no doubt an extraordinary achievement of a man of his stature. Besides, holding the portfolio as India’s Foreign Minister, he shaped the foreign policy of India in multilateral and bi-lateral forums and was the Chairperson for Standing Committee of Parliamentary affairs besides a staunch leader of opposition.
To call a spade a spade, Vajpayee’s political career started when he took active part in the Quit India Movement in 1942 with his brother Prem and was keen to bring an end to the British Colonial Rule. A post graduate student of Political Science, Vajpayee was more inclined towards the foreign affairs which he nurtured and nourished in his early years and thereafter represented India on various international forums of recognition. Vajpayee initiated friendship and cordial relation with the neighbouring Pakistan on a maiden trip to Lahore boarded on a bus with equanimity.
Vajpayee’s quest for abysmal knowledge embarked upon a Journalist’s career and associated him with news paper and periodicals, which he cut short. He joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951 and worked tirelessly for the expansion of the party. Later on, Vajpayee formed a new party; today’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the merger of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and RSS and became the first President of it in 1980.
A poet at heart, a lover of classical music and dance, Vajpayee during his busy life articulated poems written by him with profundity of thought and expression which he inherited from his father enthralled the listeners.
Compilation of his poetry titled Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein has been very popular. Famous film producer Yash Chopra directed an album Antarnaad based on some of Atalji’s classic poems which were composed by ghazal-maestro Jagjit Singh with super star Shah Rukh Khan articulating the theme. One of his poems on Jammu and Kashmir “Mastak Nahi Jhukega” sums up India’s position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
Born in a middle class family in Gwalior on 25th December 1924 Vajpayee had immense parental love from Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, a school teacher and a poet.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been honoured with India’s highest civilian honour the Bharat Ratna Award on 27th March 2015 by the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at his residence. His Birthday, 25th December, was concurrently declared as “Good Governance Day” is a befitting tribute to him. Other awards with which he has been honoured include: Padma Vibhushan (1992), Outstanding Parliamentarian Award (1994) and Lokamanya Tilak Award (1994).
Vajpayee revealed his thoughts in remarkable words when he said “Rajiv Gandhi is why I am alive”. Even the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who relentlessly attacked BJP with scathing criticism was courteous to Atal Behari Vajpayee. Rajiv Gandhi during his regime, helped Vajpayee to go to the US for his kidney treatment as India’s delegation to the UN even though he was the leader of the Opposition, which is rare in today’s politics, an account quoted in the book “The Untold Vajpayee: Politician and Paradox”.
The glorious Sun has set in and the funeral pyre was lit by the adopted daughter Namita Bhattacharya at the Smriti Sthal as the earth, air and sky echoed with sanctified ‘slokas’ and oblation to fire. His aspiration of a new India, ever-modernising, ever-self-confident to the meet the challenges ahead of a pure India still reverberate.
A man of the masses eloquently says:
”Discrimination is not in blood, or in our soil. All of us, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians, believe that God is one, but that he can be reached in different ways.”