R.I.P Atal Bihari Vajpayee – Things You Might Not Know About Former Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former prime minister of India, passed away at the age of 93 on August 16. He was admitted at AIIMS, Delhi, for the last nine weeks. Following are few things that you might not know about him;
Atal Ji and PM Narendra Modi shared a very unique relation
Vajpayee did not have very cordial relations with Modi and had asked him to follow rajdharma in the wake of the Gujarat riots of 2002. He wanted Modi to quit as chief minister but the former survived as LK Advani backed him
He was secular leader
Vajpayee was seen as a secular, moderate leader. He distanced himself from Advani’s 1991 rath yatra and was not present at Ayodhya when the Babri mosque was razed. Later he said the mosque should not have been destroyed.
Born in a humble school teacher’s family on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior Madhya Pradesh, Vajpayee entered politics during the Quit India movement in 1942. He did his graduation and post graduation in Political Science from Victoria College in Gwalior.
13 day PM
He became the Prime Minister for the first time on May 16, 1996 when then President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited BJP, which was the single largest party, to form the government. The stint, however, lasted only for 13 days as no new allies came out to support the BJP.
2nd time unlucky
On March 19, Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second time. After 13 months, the Vajpayee government lost the vote of confidence by one vote on April 17, 1999. This is the only government at the Centre to have lost a confidence vote.
The Kargil ghost
His tenure saw India’s second nuclear test at Pokharan on May 11, 1998. A spate of trade and other sanctions by US and other countries followed. Despite the nuclear test, Vajpayee reached out to Pakistan through the Lahore bus diplomacy in February, 1999. However, just three months later, Pakistan attacked India in May 1999, leading to the Kargil war.
The Musharraf summit
The Vajpayee-led NDA won 303 Lok Sabha seats in 1999 and he was sworn in as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13. Vajpayee again made a tryst with peace when he invited Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf- who was the Army chief when the neighbouring country had begun the Kargil war- for a summit at Agra in July 2001. The summit ended in failure.