B-DLI 291144 - NOVEMBER 29, 2001 - NEW DELHI : PRIME MINISTER ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE AT AN IFTAR PARTY ORGANISED BY AVIATION MINISTER SHAHNAWAZ HUSSAIN IN NEW DELHI ON THURSDAY. PTI PHOTO
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ’s long time friend and associate L K Advani, summed up his political legacy when he called him the pioneer, who gave India the first stable, non-Congress coalition government.
After failing to find the numbers for his 13-day old government in 1996, Mr. Vajpayee resigned on the floor of the House but not before leaving a mark with his standout speech. “Governments come and go and parties are born and disappear. Above it all, the country must stay shining, its democracy immortal,” the outgoing Prime Minister said in what has become the defining moment of his long parliamentary career.
After the collapse of coalition experiments like the United Front governments, Mr Vajpayee stitched up a formidable alliance of 13 parties in 1998, including the BSP, AIADMK, the TDP and the TMC. But the government lasted a little over a year.
The number 13 stuck to Vajpayee — his first government lasted 13 days, his first coalition government had 13 parties and lasted 13 months.
In 1999 as the BJP came back to power, 20 parties came together to make Mr. Vajpayee the Prime Minister for a third time.
“Vajpayee was instrumental in strengthening the BJP. From a party that had just two members in Lok Sabha, Vajpayee rode it to power. He was a successful MP, leader of opposition, Minister of External Affairs and eventually the Prime Minister,” TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu said in his tribute.
Often described as the “right man in the wrong party”, Mr. Vajpayee managed the rare feat of wearing his RSS identity just as easily as his image of being a moderate in the Sangh Parivar.
Starting out as a Jana Sangh member in the Lok Sabha in 1957, when Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru was a giant in Indian politics, Mr. Vajpayee made his mark as an orator in Parliament. It speaks to his strong commitment to parliamentary democracy that while he was not afraid to take on the Prime Minister in Parliament, he compared him to Lord Ram in his speech after Nehru died in 1964. Among leaders who were jailed during the Emergency, the former Prime Minister’s affable manner endeared him to the Opposition. And building political consensus became a hallmark of his politics.
In her tribute, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said, “Shri Vajpayee was a towering figure in our national life. Throughout his life, he stood for democratic values and demonstrated this commitment in all his acts, whether as a parliamentarian, a cabinet minister, or Prime Minister of India.”
“He was a spell-binding orator, a leader of great vision, a patriot to the core for whom the national interest was paramount. But above all, he was a man with a very large heart and a real spirit of magnanimity,” she added.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on August 16, 2018 . He was 93.
Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from BJP, was also the first non-Congress PM to complete full five years.
Vajpayee's political journey began with the RSS. He was arrested for participating in Quit India Movement.
Inspired by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Vajpayee joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh when the party was launched. Jana Sangh went on to become the BJP.
Vajpayee was elected to Lok Sabha from Balrampur for the first time in 1957. He served the Lok Sabha for a record 10 times.
Vajpayee, along with several leaders, were arrested for opposing Emergency in 1976.
The next year, Jana Sangh joined the mega anti-Congress coalition, Janata Party to which Indira Gandhi's Congress lost. Moraji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister and Vajpayee took care of the External Affairs Ministry. Photo shows Vajpayee (2nd Left) with Moraji Desai (3rd Left) in Washington in 1978.
As the External Affairs Minister, Vajpayee made his speech in Hindi, for the first time in the United Nations General Assemby.
When the Janata Party collapsed in 1979, Vajpayee and several former RSS leaders like L.K. Advani, Bhairon Singh Shekawat and Murli Manohar Joshi formed the BJP.
In 1998, BJP headed the National Democratic Alliance government. This time Vajpayee's government lasted for 13-months. The NDA government had to resign after losing a vote of confidence by a single vote.
The 13-month Vajpayee government will be remembered for successfully conducting nuclear tests in Pokhran. Here, Vajpayee is seen in the Pokhran blast site with the then Defence Minister George Fernandes and scientist APJ Abdul Kalam.
Vajpayee's term will also be remembered for the Kargil War. The victory of Kargil war ensured a third-term to NDA with a comfortable majority.
Vajpayee re-started peace process with neighbouring Pakistan. With his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Vajpayee launched the Delhi-Lahore bus service in 1999. The Lahore Declaration renewed trade relations and friendship between both the nations.
Vajpayee returns after paying homage to those who lost their lives in the Parliament attack. Following the Dec. 13, 2001 parliament attack, Vajpayee-led government introduced the controversial anti-terror law, POTA.
In this September 13, 2003 file photo, The Hindu's former Editor G. Kasturi greets the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on the occasion of the paper's 125th anniversary celebrations in Chennai.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee with President K. R. Narayanan during the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Septmeber 08, 2003.
Vajpayee's third term re-opened Indo-Pak talks by inviting President Pervez Musharraf to Delhi.
When the 2002 Gujarat riots broke out, not only did Vajpayee condemned the violence, but was vocal in criticising the BJP government in Gujarat.
Vajpayee, reciting his poems, at a 'Kavi Sammelan' to mark his 79th birthday in New Delhi on December 25, 2003.
In 2004 general elections, NDA failed to secure majority. Congress-led coalition United Progressive Alliance formed the government under the leadership of Manmohan Singh. Vajpayee refused to be the Leader of Opposition and passed on the reigns to L.K. Advani.
Vajpayee retired from active politics citing health issues in 2005. He did not attend any public events after his retirement.
Vajpayee was never married. He has an adopted daughter Namita. Seen here with Vajpayee is his granddaughter Niharika at his Delhi residence in 2004.