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– Radhika Maheshwari

India’s 10th Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the longest living PM and first non-congress PM to complete full term, passes away on 16th August 2018, after struggling for more than 3 weeks in AIIMS.

He served three terms as PM, the first for 15 days in 1996, the second for 13 months from March 1998 to April 1999, and the third for five years from 1999-2004.

Vajpayee’s long career in public life was no doubt crowned by his being elected Prime Minister, but the course of it was peppered with long years as a parliamentarian, and with struggles to establish the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and later the BJP, in national politics.

Born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Mr. Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States, and was twice a Member of the Rajya Sabha in a storied career.

He had an idea of becoming a journalist, and even worked as an editor to Hindi publications like Rashtradharma Panchjanya, Swadesh, & Veer Arjun but ended it in 1951.

He studied Hindi, Sanskrit, and English from Gwalior’s Laxmi Bai College, then known as Victoria College, and graduated with an MA in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur.

Vajpayee was also a writer and a poet, and published six poetry books, including Meri Ikyavana Kavitaem, Sreshtha Kabita, Nayi Disha, and more.

Entry in Politics

  • Vajpayee’s first involvement in politics was as a freedom fighter between 1942 to 1945 when he got involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942 and was arrested for it.
  • He, and after finishing Masters, he began to work full-time for the RSS.
  • He was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) since 1939 and then joined in as full time on 21 October 1951, founded by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, which also laid foundation to BJP. He also ran an RSS magazine in the early 1950s
  • In 1957, he was elected to parliament as a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the foreign minister in the Janata government and earned a reputation for improving relations with Pakistan and China.
  • In 1977, Vajpayee went on to become a founding member of the Janata Party, and served as theExternal Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai government.
  • It was under Atal Bihari Vajpayee that India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan in May 1998.

Honours & Awards

  • Vajpayee was honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 2015. He was also awarded the Bangladesh’s Liberation War Honour in the same year on 7 June, by the Government of Bangladesh.
  • The Government of India also conferred the Padma Vibhushan on Vajpayee in 1992.
  • He also received the Lokmanya Tilak Award, as well as the Best Parliamentarian Award in 1994.
  • He also was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant Award in 1994, as well as an honourary D.Litt. from Kanpur University in 1993.

As he passes away, we would like to remember few lines from his poetry,

“Door kahin koi rota hai’ —

Janmadin par hum iththlate,

Kyon na maran tyohaar manaate,

Antim yatra ke avsar par,

Aansoo ka ashakun hota hai…”

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