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Atal Bihari Vajpayee: a statesman, an orator and poet

Vajpayee chose Bengaluru to send a political message in 1984

He had a bond with Karnataka; was arrested in the city after Emergency was declared

August 17, 2018 01:26 am | Updated 07:55 am IST - Bengaluru

 The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a meeting on the sharing of Cauvery waters, in New Delhi on October 28, 1998.

The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a meeting on the sharing of Cauvery waters, in New Delhi on October 28, 1998.

Na dainyam, na palayanam (Neither do I beg for mercy, nor do I run away). This famous phrase was quoted by Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1984 to instil confidence in the cadre of the party which had been reduced to just two MPs in the Lok Sabha elections amid the pro-Congress wave after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Senior leaders and functionaries of the BJP recollect that Mr. Vajpayee had said this after visiting the family of a party worker from Bhadravati in Shivamogga district who had committed suicide following the party’s miserable poll performance.

This was a morale booster for rebuilding the party. Since then it has become almost a tradition for party leaders to refer to this phrase and the circumstances in which it was used whenever the party finds itself in a demoralising situation.

Arrest during Emergency

Mr. Vajpayee always had a bond with Bengaluru and Karnataka as he used to visit the State regularly. In fact, like many of his party colleagues, he too was arrested on June 26, 1975 in Bengaluru following the declaration of the Emergency. Though he was first lodged in the Bengaluru Central Jail, he was later shifted out of the State.

According to the book My Country My Life written by BJP veteran L.K. Advani, Mr. Vajpayee underwent an operation for appendicitis in Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru when he had been imprisoned.

But only after the operation was over, it was discovered that the intense pain he was suffering from was owing to another ailment, according to the book. He was later shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

Party old timers remember how Mr. Vajpayee, during his several visits, toured the State in a car along with leaders such as V.S. Acharya and B.B. Shivappa.

During all his visits to the State, he left behind an indelible impression owing to his simplicity and statesmanship. Recalling one of his visits to the State, when he was put up in the government guest house Kumara Krupa, a BJP functionary said, “There was darkness because of power supply problem when he wanted to shave early in the morning before leaving for New Delhi. He shaved in candlelight. He could not get hot water for bath. Not willing to miss the flight, he took bath in cold water on that chilly morning. Before leaving the guest house, he instructed the party functionaries not to take up the matter with any higher-ups. ‘Such lapses do happen in any government guest house. We should not make an issue out of it,’ he had remarked.”

He was always appreciative of the manner in which Bengaluru city had carved a niche for itself owing to its technical excellence. He had voiced this during his visit to Bengaluru as the Prime Minister by saying, “Let many a Bengaluru bloom.”

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