Former Prime Minister of India, the Bharat Ratna and the Gentle Giant of Indian politics – Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at the age of 93 on 16th August, 2018 – yesterday. Here’s the story of Vajpayee, the political icon of the golden era of BJP.
Roughly 79-years ago in 1939, a 15-year-old teenager in Gwalior was asked, “What do you do in the evenings…Why don’t you attend RSS shakha?” Even Bhoodev Shastri might not have imagined that his question would shape the prime minister of India one day. Replying “nothing in particular”, the teenager joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and that was the first step in the making of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the political legend of India. And this was the beginning of the journey of the young boy who became the head of India after 57 years.
Young Vajpayee grew to become a politically sensitive boy who took a jump into the Quit India Movement for the country’s independence and was even jailed along with his brother. But with an astoundingly active journey, Vajpayee entered the free India Lok Sabha for the first time in 1957. Since then, he remained as a member of the Parliament for next 40 years, including 10 terms in the Lok Sabha and twice in the Rajya Sabha and became the first non-Congress politician to complete five years as prime minister of free India.
As the head of the country, he have played significant roles for shaping India – from leading an Indian delegation at United Nations for first time to introducing Lahore bus service and resolving the vexed Kashmir issue with Pakistan, Vajpayee won the hearts of Indians, the opposition and even Pakistan. Popularly known as the “Bheeshm Pitamah of Indian politics”, his six year tenure from 1998 to 2004 witnessed governance and development take centre stage at a time when the political discourse in the country was seen through the prism of caste, religion and political instability. Perhaps, his “India shining campaign” didn’t work in 2004 and he shunned away from politics as he hung his boots in 2009. We never heard much from Atalji as he chose to stay away from limelight and stayed at home, ailing with multiple diseases. He passed away, but he lived one worthy life and left behind, the unmatchable legacy for modern India.