Paying glowing tributes to the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu described him as “Bhishma of Indian politics.”
He said he was saddened by the demise of “a great humanist, poet, orator and a philosopher”. All through his life, he was committed to the principles and philosophy in which he believed.
“I had a strong personal attachment with Mr. Vajpayee, a great visionary. Vajpayee era remains as a history in Indian politics. His death is a great loss to the country,” Mr. Naidu said in a condolence message here on Thursday.
Describing Mr. Vajpayee as a great Parliamentarian, Mr. Naidu said that he was elected to Lok Sabha 10 times and Rajya Sabha twice. “He served as a successful MP, Opposition leader, External Affairs Minister and Prime Minister. He left his mark as Prime Minister whether his government survived for 13 days or 13 months or five years.”
Mr. Vajpayee was stoic even though he lost no confidence motion with a single vote, the Chief Minister recalled.
As Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee developed infrastructure in all States. Half of the roads that were constructed in last 32 years were taken up during the five-year rule of Vajpayee government.
He strived for inter-linking of rivers and Golden Quadrilateral road network. A large number of roads and highways were developed during Vajpayee regime.
Mr. Naidu said Mr. Vajpayee did a lot for Andhra Pradesh. He took initiative for development of national highway from Tada to Ichchapuram, sanctioning of World Bank funds to Velugu project and 50,000 tonnes of rice under Food-for-Work programme besides IT development in Hyderabad, international airport at Shamshabad and outer ring road in Hyderabad.
Mr. Vajpayee inaugurated Cyber Towers in Hyderabad, Mr. Naidu recalled. Mr. Vajpayee has the credit of working with all generations and was instrumental in strengthening the party and taking the BJP’s strength in the Lok Sabha from two to 271 now, he said.
“When he was Prime Minister, though 7 to 8 berths were offered in his Cabinet to the TDP, I denied as State interests were more important,” he recalled, adding, “the TDP gave outside support to the NDA-1 government.”
Mr. Naidu recalled that he took initiative in proposing candidature of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the post of President during Mr. Vajpayee’s tenure. “Mr. Vajpayee appointed me as chairman of micro irrigation task force,” he added.