Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of the stalwarts of Indian politics. A founding member of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh, he restructured the Jana Sangh into the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. Vajpayee thrice served as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1998 to 2004. He was the first Indian prime minister not belonging to the Indian National Congress to complete a full five-year term. He will be remembered for Pokhran-2 nuclear tests, the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service and many domestic economic and infrastructural reforms. Conferred India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, his birthday is marked as Good Governance Day.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior. A postgraduate in Political Science, he was a bright student from the very beginning. He inherited the art of poetry from his father Krishna Bihari Vajpayee. Born in pre-independence India, he along with his elder brother Prem was arrested for 23 days during the Quit India Movement. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939 and became a "full-time worker" in 1947. Before joining active politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee worked as a journalist for newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of the founding members of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was the precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He had first-hand experience of working with many Hindu right-wing political leaders like Deendayal Upadhyaya and Syama Prasad Mukherjee. He entered Lok Sabha from Balrampur constituency in 1957 and soon became the young face of the face of the Jana Sangh. In Lok Sabha, his oratorial skills so impressed Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he predicted that Vajpayee would occupy his seat "one day".Nehru's prediction came true almost 40 years later in 1990s. After the demise of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the mantle of the leadership of Jana Sangh fell on the shoulders of a young Vajpayee. He became the national president of the Jana Sangh in 1968 and, along with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and L. K. Advani, led the Jana Sangh to national prominence.
Vajpayee along with other along with several other opposition leaders were arrested after the proclamation of emergency in 1975. He was a vocal critique of Internal Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congress party. He and his party supported the JP movement.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was appointed as external affairs minister in Prime Minister Morarji Desai's cabinet. As foreign minister, he became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. Though the Janata government which won on a huge anti Indira anti-Congress wave did not last long and crumbled in 1979. Frustrated by the internecine political wars within the Janata Party, he alongwith his long-time friends L. K. Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat formed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. He became the BJP's first President.
With times this nascent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the tutelage of Atal Bihari Vajpayee emerged as a vocal critique of the policies of India Gandhi government. He and his party opposed the Sikh militancy in Punjab and blames Indira Gandhi for her "divisive and corrupt politics that led to the deterioration of law and order in Punjab. Though the party was limited with only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections, it was the grit and determination of Vajpayee who did not lose hope and infused new energy into the party with his hard work. The party was the center stage of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement of 1990's and won assembly elections in Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1995. The party also performed well in Karnataka assembly elections. With these BJP under Vajpayeeji made its presence felt on the map of the country.
Vajpayee thrice served as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then from 1998 to 2004. He was the first Indian prime minister not belonging to the Indian National Congress to serve a full five-year term.
As Prime Minister of India
Atal Bihari Vajpayee reign as a Prime Minister of India saw many momentous occasions. During his reign, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan. His government started Delhi–Lahore Bus, officially known as Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier), bus service connecting the Indian capital of Delhi with the city of Lahore in Pakistan. The bus during its inaugural run on 19 February 1999, carried Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to Lahore and was received by his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif at Wagah. Though the goodwill relation between the two nations suffered a major setback due to the outbreak of Kargil war which was orchestrated by the Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf. India launched Operation Vijay and not only recovered its border hilltops, unmanned border posts but inflicted crushing defeat to the Pakistani army. The victory in Kargil bolstered the image of Vajpayee and he was hailed across the country for his bold and strong leadership.
(FOLLOWER OF Shri ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE)
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