Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

1 . Biography

Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Born on December 25, 1924 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Shri Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Smt. Krishna Devi.Educated at Victoria (now Laxmi Bai) College, Gwalior and DAV College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Vajpayee holds an M.A (Political Science) degree and has many literary, artistic and scientific accomplishments to his credit.He brings with him a long parliamentary experience spanning over four decades. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1957. He was elected to the 5th, 6th and 7th Lok Sabha and again to the 10th, 11th 12th and 13th Lok Sabha and to Rajya Sabha in 1962 and 1986. He has again been elected to Parliament from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh for the fifth time consecutively. He is the only parliamentarian elected from four different States at different times namely UP, Gujarat, MP and Delhi.

Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister of India from May 16 31, 1996 and a second time from March 19, 1998 to May 13, 2004. With his swearing in as Prime Minister, he has been the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to occupy the office of the Prime Minister of India through three successive mandates. Shri Vajpayee has also been the first Prime Minister since Smt. Indira Gandhi to lead his party to victory in successive elections.

2 . Childhood Early Life

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born into a middle class family in Gwalior. His father was Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, a school teacher and poet, and his mother was Krishna Devi.He attended the Saraswati Shishu Mandir and later went to Victoria College from where he graduated with distinction in Hindi, English and Sanskrit.

He enrolled at DAV College, Kanpur to complete his post graduation and earned his M.A. in Political science. He was a patriot at heart and participated in Indias struggle for freedom even as a student and edited several nationalist Hindi newspapers.

3 . Political Career

He became associated with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), a right wing political party founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951. He became a loyal follower of Mookerjee and supported him during his fast unto death in Kashmir in 1954.Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Balrampur (U.P.) in 1957. He proved himself to be an excellent orator and gave powerful speeches.He was made the national president of the Jana Sangh in 1968 after the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya. Over the next few years he worked tirelessly with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and Lal Krishna Advani to make the Jana Sangh a prominent presence in Indian politics.In 1977, the BJS was united with the Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Socialist Party to form the Janata Party. After the victory of the Janata Party in the general elections, Vajpayee became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desais government.The Janata Party was dissolved following Morarji Desais resignation as Prime Minister in 1979. Vajpayee, in collaboration with Lal Krishna Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat formed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980 and became the partys first president.

After the 1984 elections, when BJP was reduced to two seats, Vajpayee worked tirelessly to build the party and in the next parliamentary elections in 1989 BJP won 88 seats.By 1991, BJP had emerged as the principal opposition party and the party won 120 seats in 1991 parliamentary elections.He became the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament in 1993 and in November 1995 at a BJP conference in Mumbai, he was declared as the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP.

4 . Career as the Prime Minister

The BJP emerged the single largest party in Lok Sabha in the 1996 general elections. Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister in May 1996. However, he resigned after 13 days since BJP could not obtain a majority.He was again sworn in as the Prime Minister in 1998 after BJP emerged as the single largest party and formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with other political parties. This government lasted for a little over a year when fresh elections were held.

It was during his tenure that India conducted underground nuclear tests in Pokhran in May 1998, just a month after the government came into power. These tests were regarded a national milestone.The Kargil War between India and Pakistan took place between May and July 1999. By the end of the war, the Indian Army and Air force had recaptured the areas infiltrated by the Pakistani militants. The Kargil victory cemented the reputation of Vajpayee as a strong and able leader of the nation.The BJP led NDA again emerged as the largest political alliance in the 1999 general elections in the wake of the Kargil War victory. Vajpayee was made the Prime Minister for the third time in October 1999.

He introduced many economic and infrastructural reforms like strengthening of private sectors, encouraging private research and development, bringing about privatization of certain government owned corporations, etc. His major projects were National Highway Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.U.S. President Bill Clinton paid a state visit to India in March 2000. Clintons visit to India was viewed as very significant in improving the foreign trade and economic relations between the two nations.

Vajpayees privatization campaigns were criticized by trade unions and government employees as excessive privatization was not in their favour.In 2001, he invited the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to India with a view to improve Indo Pak relations. However, this attempt could not achieve much success for India.He launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in 2001, with the aim of universalization of elementary education.

The Parliament House in New Delhi was attacked in December 2001 by Pakistan trained terrorists. Investigations pointed to a conspiracy hatched in Pakistan. For a long time the threat of a full fledged war between the two nations loomed. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) was enacted in the aftermath of the attack. The Vajpayee government implemented several economic reforms during 2002 03 which resulted in a record growth rate of 6 7% in the GDP. The international image of India also improving due to the rapid developments that took place in the country during this perios.Vajpayee resigned as Prime Minister in 2004 after Congress emerged as the single largest party in the general elections.He announced his retirement from active politics in 2005 and didnt contest the 2009 parliamentary elections.

5 . Major Works

Nuclear tests conducted in 1998 during his reign unambiguously established India as a nuclear state and the country was able to develop a minimum credible deterrent to ward off threats to its security.The National Highways Develop Project (NHDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) were two projects that were very close to his heart. NHDP involves connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. PMGSY is a nationwide plan to provide good all weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. He is highly respected for the economic reforms and privatization campaigns he brought about during his tenure as the Prime Minister of India. His diplomacy and leadership while handling political issues during the Kargil War and terrorist attacks further strengthened his image as a wise and capable leader of India.

6 . Awards Achievements

He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India in 1992 for his distinguished contribution in public affairs.He was honored with Best Parliamentarian Award in 1994.

7 . Personal Life Legacy

Vajpayee is a bachelor. He has one adopted daughter, Namita, and is very close to his friends and relatives.He has a deep love for the Hindi language and has written several poems.He is nearing 90 years of age and suffers from various health problems including dementia and diabetes.

8 . Trivia

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh called him the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Politics.His favourite singers are Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and Mohd. Rafi.This towering political personality is the only parliamentarian to have been elected from four different states at different times namely UP, MP, Gujarat and Delhi.

9 . Bharatiya Janata Party

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bihari also spelled Behari (born December 25, 1924, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India), leader of the pro Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and twice prime minister of India (1996; 1998?2004).Vajpayee was first elected to Parliament in 1957 as a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), a forerunner of the BJP. In 1977 the BJS joined three other parties to form the Janata Party, which led a government that lasted until July 1979. As foreign minister in the Janata government, Vajpayee earned a reputation for improving relations with Pakistan and China. In 1980, following a split in the Janata Party, Vajpayee helped the BJS to reorganize itself as the BJP. In 1992 he was one of the few Hindu leaders to speak out against the destruction of the historic mosque at Ayodhya by anti Muslim extremists.

Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister in May 1996 but was in office only 13 days, after failing to attract support from other parties. In early 1998 he again became prime minister, in elections in which the BJP won a record number of seats, but he was forced to make a shaky alliance with regional parties. In 1999 the BJP increased its seats in Parliament and consolidated its hold on government.Although considered a pragmatist, Vajpayee assumed a defiant posture in the face of Western criticism of Indias testing of several nuclear weapons in 1998. He had earlier been praised for his conciliatory gestures toward Indias Muslim minority. In 2000 his government began an extensive program of divestment of public funds from several key state run industries. In 2002 Vajpayees government was criticized for its slowness in reacting to riots in Gujarat in which some 1,000 people (primarily Muslims) died. Nevertheless, in 2003 Vajpayee made a concerted effort to resolve Indias long running feud with Pakistan over the Kashmir region. Under his leadership, India achieved steady economic growth, and the country became a world leader in information technology, though the poorer elements of Indian society often felt left out of the economic prosperity. In 2004 his coalition was defeated in the parliamentary election, and he resigned from office.

10 . Education

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in a middle class Brahmin family in Gwalior. His grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, had migrated to Gwalior from his ancestral village of Bateshwar, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, was a poet and a schoolmaster in his hometown. Vajpayee studied from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gorkhi, Bara, Gwalior. Vajpayee attended Gwaliors Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College) and graduated with distinction in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He completed his post graduation with an M.A. in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur, and was awarded a first class degree.

Later he became a full time worker of the Hindu nationalist rganisation[citation needed] Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). For a while Vajpayee studied law, but midstream he chose to become a journalist. This choice was largely influenced by the fact that as a student he had been an activist in Indias struggle for freedom. He edited Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. Vajpayee never married and has remained a bachelor his entire life.