On 16th August 2018 at 5:05 pm, India lost one of its greatest Prime Ministers ever, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been the guiding light to India’s rise in power and prosperity through his works that changed India forever. Even today, these changes are touching the lives of people everyday. Atal ji, you’ll be hugely missed!
An enigmatic Prime Minister, a passionate orator and a wise poet, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior to father Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, a school teacher and mother Krishna Devi. Being an active member of the ‘Quit India Movement’ in 1942, he and his elder brother were arrested for 23 days in August that year. Atal ji’s strong views and trademark oratory skills even impressed then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who predicted that one day he would be the Prime Minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru’s words came true on May 1996, but Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to resign after 13 days because of the failure in obtaining absolute majority in the parliament. However he came to power in 1998 again and it was during these times that the famous Pokhran tests were conducted making India the third defensive nuclear state in the world.
From building all-weather roads that connected each village to major cities and of course, the Golden Quadrilateral – the first ever highway network that runs throughout the country like a bloodstream, to giving a chance to peace with Pakistan by starting the bus trip from Kashmir as well on the other hand, proving that he can turn threats into opportunities that would isolate Pakistan and win the war as well as the world’s opinions during the war months at LOC Kargil. He also left a legacy of outright privatisation by approving strategic sales and handed over 30 PSU’s (Public Sector Undertakings) including giants like Balco, HIndustan Zinc, Indian Petrochemicals, etc to private management in five years – a record that no one has even got close to yet. The contributions that he has made to our motherland can’t be fathomed in words, except that he has always been and will be the Prime Minister India needs as a pathfinder.
Even before being elected as a Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been a member of the parliament for four decades and in 1977 he made his historic speech in Hindi at UNGA as the Minister of External Affairs, that still echoes loud and clear throughout the world quoting:
“India stands firmly for peace, non-alignment and friendship with all countries. The vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum – the world is one family – is an old one. We in India have all along believed in the concept of the world as one family,” effectively raising India’s stand on key issues like nuclear disarmament, state-sponsored terrorism and reforms at the world body.
Today, as the nation mourns at this great loss, obituaries pour in from countries like USA, U.K, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh alike.
The British High Commissioner to India, Dominic Asquith tweeted:
“We are saddened by the passing of former PM of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We will remember him as one of India’s greatest leaders. Shri Vajpayee was much respected in the UK as a statesman par excellence.”
US Embassy in New Delhi released a statement:
“The US grieves with India on the loss of former Prime Minister #AtalBehariVajpayee. He will be remembered for his immense contribution to bolstering #USIndia relations & for recognizing us as “natural allies.” We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India.”
Russia Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev’s message:
“We mourn the death of H.E. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a great statesman. His name became an integral part of a whole era in Indian politics. His devoted service to the nation can hardly be overestimated. Mr Vajpayee enjoyed due respect in India and globally.
“We knew him also as a poet, a man of knowledge and a true friend of our country, where he is well-known as one of the architects of our long-lasting and time-tested privileged strategic partnership.”
May you rest in peace, Atalji!