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Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee
ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE
PART – 1
EARLY LIFE

• Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior.
• His father was a poet and a school teacher. Vajpayee did his schooling from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gwalior.
• Later, he studied at Victoria College, Gwalior – now Laxmi Bai College, for his graduation.
It was at Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, Kanpur that Vajpayee completed his post-graduation in Political Science.

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THE BEGINNING

• He also joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939. He gave up studying law due to the partition riots.
• He was sent as a vistarak to Uttar Pradesh and quickly began working for the newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, 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.
• Vajpayee’s first exposure to politics was in August 1942, when he and his elder brother Prem were arrested for 23 days during the Quit India Movement.
• In 1948, the RSS was banned for its alleged role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1951, he was seconded by the RSS, along with Deendayal Upadhyaya, to work for the newly formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh.

ROSE TO POWER

• He joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), a Hindu right-wing political party, under the leadership of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. He became national secretary of BJS in charge of the
Northern region.
• In 1954, Vajpayee was with Mukherjee when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir to protest against perceived inferior treatment of non-Kashmiri Indian visitors to the state. Mookerjee died in prison during this strike.
• Vajpayee lost to Raja Mahendra Pratap in Mathura for the Lok Sabha, , but was elected from Balrampur. There, his oratorial skills so impressed Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he predicted that Vajpayee would someday become India’s Prime Minister.
• He rose to become the national president of the Jana Sangh in 1968. Supported by his colleagues Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and L K Advani, Vajpayee took the Jana Sangh to greater glory.

TURNAROUND

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee participated in the Total Revolution movement launched by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) against the Internal Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
• Vajpayee merged the Jana Sangh into the newly formed grand-alliance, the Janata Party Following Janata’s victory in the 1977 general elections, he became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s cabinet.
• As foreign minister, that year Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. By the time the Janata government crumbled in 1979, Vajpayee had established himself as an experienced statesman and a respected political leader.

BJP

• His career as a minister was short-lived as he resigned from his post following the resignation of Morarji Desai in 1979. But by then, Vajpayee had established himself as a political leader.
• Vajpayee joined many of his Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh colleagues, particularly his long-time friends L. K. Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to form the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980.
• The BJP was left with only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections. During this period, Vajpayee remained at the centre-stage as party President and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament.

STRUGGLE

• The BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement, which was led by activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the RSS, and which sought to build a temple dedicated to Lord Rama in Ayodhya.
• The BJP grew in strength in the early 1995 riding on pro-nationalistic sentiments. In the 1996 general elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha.
• The then president Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Vajpayee to form the government. Vajpayee was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of India, but the BJP failed to muster enough support from other parties to obtain a majority. He resigned after 13 days, when it became clear that he could not garner a majority.

ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE
PART – 2
LEADER OF THE LEADERS

• After the fall of the two United Front governments between 1996 and 1998, the Lok Sabha was dissolved and fresh elections were held. The 1998 general elections again put the BJP ahead of others.
• This time, a cohesive bloc of political parties joined the BJP to form the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
• The NDA proved its majority in the parliament. The government lasted 13 months until mid-1999 when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under Jayalalithaa withdrew its support to the government.
• The government lost the ensuing vote of confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by a single vote on 17 April 1999.The Lok Sabha was again dissolved and fresh elections were held. Vajpayee remaining the Prime Minister until the elections were held.

NUCLEAR TESTS

• The BJP-led coalition government came back to power as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1998. Vajpayee was again sworn in as the Prime Minister.
• In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan, 24 yrs after India conducted its first
nuclear test (Smiling Buddha) in 1974. This test is called Pokhran-II. The tests were held just a month after the government had been in power.
• Two weeks later, Pakistan responded with its own nuclear tests making it the newest declared nation with nuclear weapons.
• While some nations, such as Russia and France, endorsed India’s right to defensive nuclear power,others including the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain and the European Union imposed sanctions on information, resources and technology to India.

LAHORE DECLARATION

• In late 1998 and early 1999, Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999, Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan.
• The resultant Lahore Declaration espoused a commitment to dialogue, expanded trade relations and mutual friendship and envisaged a goal of denuclearised South Asia.
• The Vajpayee-led government was faced with two crises in mid-1999. The AIADMK had continually threatened to withdraw from the coalition and national leaders repeatedly flew down from Delhi to Chennai to pacify the AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha.

KARGIL WAR

• It was revealed that militants and non-uniformed Pakistani soldiers had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured control of border hilltops, unmanned border posts and were spreading out fast.
• Indian army units were swiftly rushed into Kashmir in response. Operation Vijay, launched in June 1999, saw the Indian military fighting thousands of militants and soldiers in the midst of heavy artillery shelling and while facing extremely cold weather, snow and treacherous terrain at the high altitude.
• Over 500 Indian soldiers were killed in the three-month-long Kargil War, and it is estimated around 600-4,000 Pakistani militants and soldiers died as well. India pushed back the Pakistani.
• The militants were killed by the army or forced to withdraw in skirmishes which went beyond the announcement of withdrawal by Pakistan. The victory in Kargil bolstered the image of Vajpayee

POLICY

• Vajpayee’s government lasted 13 months when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) withdrew its support to the government in mid-1999.
• In the following election, however, the NDA came back with full majority and Vajpayee was able to complete five years (1999-2004).Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time on 13 October 1999.
• During his administration, Vajpayee introduced many domestic economic and infrastructural reforms, including encouraging the private sector and foreign investments, reducing governmental waste, encouraging research and development and privatisation of some government owned corporations.
• Vajpayee’s pet projects were the National Highways Development Project
and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

POLICY

• In March 2000, Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, paid a state visit to India. His was the first state visit to India by a US President in 22 years.
• It became impossible for the BJP to push issues like building the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya, repealing Article 370 which gave a special status to the state of Kashmir, or enacting a uniform civil code applicable to adherents of all religions due to coalition.
• The Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to resign following the Barak Missile scandal. In 2001, the Vajpayee government launched the famous Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which aimed at improving the quality of education in primary and secondary schools

ATTACK ON PARLIAMENT

• On 13 December 2001, a group of masked, armed men with fake IDs stormed the Parliament House in Delhi. The terrorists managed to kill several security guards, but the building was sealed off swiftly and security forces cornered and killed the men, who were later proven to be Pakistan nationals.
• Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered a mobilisation of India’s military forces, and as many as 500,000 servicemen amassed along the international boundary bordering Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kashmir. Pakistan responded with the same.
• The Vajpayee administration also passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Human rights groups have condemned the act which gives wide authority to the government to crack down and hold anybody. Its repeal was advocated by human rights organisations

RETIREMENT

• The NDA was widely expected to retain power after the 2004 general election. However, the coalition lost almost half of its seats, with several prominent cabinet ministers being defeated. The Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, became the single largest party.
• Vajpayee refused to take up the position of the Leader of the Opposition paving the way for Lal Krishna Advani’s leadership of BJP. He now lives in retirement and seclusion owing to ill health.
• He suffered a stroke in 2009 which impaired his speech. His health has been a major source of concern and those in the know say he is often confined to a wheelchair and fails to recognise people. He is said to be suffering from dementia and long-term diabetes. He is not known to have attended any public event in recent years.

AWARDS

Padma Vibhushan in 1992
D. Lit. from Kanpur University in 1993
Lokmanya Tilak Award in 1994
Best Parliamentarian Award in 1994
Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant Award in 1994
Bharat Ratna in 2015
Liberation War award (Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sanmanona) in 2015