After a man dies, all people praise him. “He was a good man. We will not see such a man again’. He is remembered with such good words. When is alive, he is not hailed. However, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man who received this recognition during his life time. Winning appreciation from both friends and enemies is extraordinary achievement in politics. He symbolized patriotism, commitment to principles and moral values. He had the qualities which even his rival had to praise in the national interest. It was these qualities which made him a towering personality.
Watching four political generations is not a small thing. Impacting the entire country and playing a key role were Vajpayee’s specialties. His journey from Nehru’s time before independence till Rahul’s entry into politics can’t be described in mere words. The fighting spirit in him was visible from going to jail with patriotic fervor during Quit India movement to the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi when he was again sent to prison. A leader like Nehru had predicted in 1950 that Vajpayee will become the prime minister in future. This shows the capability and calibre Vajpayee had. Except tasting defeat twice, his successive election from second Lok Sabha to 13th Lok Sabha proves why he was a beloved leader of people. Being a people’s representative in the legislative bodies for nearly 50 years, he showed that he was all over in the country’s march towards progress. From sufferings and sacrifices during freedom struggle to welfare schemes, reforms, infrastructure and latest technology era, in every step taken by the country, Vajpayee left his indelible mark.
In politics it is common to see rival as the enemy. Even if he does something good it is not recognized because of the fear that this may give him political mileage. However, Vajpayee was an exception to this. He praised Indira Gandhi by calling her druga for the role she played in the war against Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh. When first nuclear tests were conducted in 1974, he again lauded Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, keeping in mind the defence requirements of the country. When same Indira imposed emergency, he stood up against it. He gave strong reply to Congress by merging Jana Sangh with Janata Party. He proved that there can be political rivalry when required but it should not be permanent.
He used to often say that that there are no untouchables in politics. He tried hard for friendship with Pakistan and his famous quote was “we can change friends but we can’t change our neighbours.” However, with Kargil war he proved that he will not tolerate when the enemy crosses the limits. His proposals for peace in Kashmir are still the guiding principles.
Atal was a good friend even for those who hate BJP. The opposition parties had isolated BJP by calling it a communal party. However, Atal brought together the very parties opposing BJP to form the biggest alliance. The credit for bringing BJP to power goes only to Vajpayee. If BJP is such a big party today, it is only due to the seeds sown by Vajpayee. He never compromised on country’s security. He reflected the country’s pride. For the first time, he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in national language Hindi. With Pokhran nuclear tests, he included India into the list of countries with nuclear capability. Though America and other western countries tried to put pressure on this issue but he refused to surrender. With firm belief that infrastructure will take our country on the path of rapid development, he launched national highways programme. Focusing on use of modern technology, he brought mobile phone revolution in the country. Vajpayee’s tenure was the boom time for the middle classes. At the same time he did not forget the poor. He always took the decisions keeping in mind the words of his own poem about how the ruler should be righteous and care for the penniless.
“Ye vandan ki dharti hai, ye abhinandan ki dharti hai,
Ye arpan ki bhumi hai ,ye tarpan ki bhumi hai. Hum jeeyange to is bharat kai liye, Hum marange to is bharat kai liye”. These are the words from his poem which have come true.