“If India is not secular, India is not India at all”, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said. Today is the third death anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee one of the most loved Prime Ministers of India and an iconic leader. He served thrice as the Prime Minister and framed some key policies that changed the face of the Indian economy.
Vajpayee, the first BJP prime minister, had died on 16 August 2018. A statesman and political stalwart, he held the post of the prime minister of India for three terms in 1996, 1998-99 and from 1999-2004.
Born on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States (the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh) and was twice a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Vajpayee participated in the Quit India Movement of 1942. One of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, Vajpayee became its president in 1968. He made a name for himself as an orator and for his poetic flourishes. His poetry, collated in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems) reflect it.
The movement against the Emergency declared in 1975 saw Vajpayee and the Jan Sangh join forces with the Janata Party, and in the 1977 polls, be elected to the Lok Sabha and appointed as Minister for External Affairs.
Vajpayee founded the Bharatiya Janata Party on 6 April 1980 after the dissolution of the Jan Sangh. He served as its first president. When elections were held in 1984, the BJP won just two seats. In 1984, LK Advani was appointed president of the party. The BJP threw its support behind the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The party won 86 seats in 1989 Lok Sabha, a tally that made its support crucial to the National Front government of VP Singh. In the 1991 elections, the BJP won 120 seats. In the 1996 election, the party pocketed 161 seats, making it the largest party in Parliament. Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister but was unable to attain a majority in the Lok Sabha, forcing the government to resign after 13 days.
In the 1998 elections, the saffron party won 182 seats and Vajpayee once again became the Prime Minister. This time, the government survived for 13 months. When elections were held in 1999, the BJP once again stormed to power with 182 seats. The party was supported by its allies and Vajpayee completed the full five years term.
Vajpayee retired from active politics in December 2005. Referred as the ‘Bhishma Pitamaha’ of BJP, Vajpayee was conferred Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, in 2015. He breathed his last on 16 August in 2018.
As the nation remembers Vajpayee ‘the man of the masses’, on his third death anniversary, we take a look at 10 motivating quotes of the former Prime Minister:
- I have a vision of India-an an India free of hunger and fear, an India free of illiteracy and want.
- You can change friends but not neighbours.
- Poverty is multidimensional. It extends beyond money incomes to education, health care, political participation, and advancement of one’s own culture and social organization.
- The cycle of being and not being will continue till eternity, So will our illusion that we are and we will be.
- Governments will come and go, Parties will form and break, but this country should remain.
- India has no dearth of brave young men and women and if they get the opportunity and help then we can compete with other nations in space exploration and one of them will fulfil their dreams.
- My Lord, Never let me climb so high That I am unable to embrace another stranger, Deliver me ever from such arrogance!
- We hope the world will act in the spirit of enlightened self-interest.
- If you do not like anything in a particular book, then sit and discuss it. Banning a book is not a solution. We have to tackle it ideologically.
- Our nuclear weapons are meant purely as a deterrent against nuclear adventure by an adversary.