India has lost one of the most important statesmen in its history: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India’s most charismatic leader who led the country through a period of economic and political turmoil while holding together the country’s two major political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, died here today. Although he disappeared from the public spotlight almost a decade ago, two characteristics of Modi’s personality and vision are unmistakable.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is greeted by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in New Delhi in 2009. In 2009, the PTI news agency published a photo of the former prime minister’s residence, showing him with visitors including former prime ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and former president Pratap Singh.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addresses the nation after taking office in New Delhi on 19 May 1996. President Clinton shakes hands with Atul Gogoi, former Prime Minister of India and former President of the United States of America, at the border with Wagah on 20 February 1999. Former President Bill Clinton and then-Prime Minister Atelier Vaj shake hands on the border with Wagha, India, on February 20, 1999.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru respected the young Vajpayee as opposition leader and sent him to represent India at the UN General Assembly. Manmohan Singh, who succeeded Vaj as prime minister in 2004, praised the BJP as “India’s supreme leader” who had spent his entire life serving the country. Vajpayee praised Man Mohannan Singh for his groundbreaking work on education, health and education reform. In his first speech as Prime Minister of India in May 1996, Mr. Vaj Payee addressed several Congress leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehro, calling him “the son of India.”
Vajpayee was not only twice Prime Minister of India, but also the only one elected to the Lok Sabha (Indian House of the People) nine times. He is the first since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to become India’s prime minister with two consecutive terms. [Sources: 9, 18]
A few years after partition and independence, the RSS formed the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Party, which opposed the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his party. The BJP emerged as the dominant political force in the country it led for most of the years of independence in 1947. Vajpayee was first elected to parliament in 1999 as a member of the BJP in Lok Sabha (Indian House of People) and again in 2004.
While supporting Operation Bluestar, the BJP has been vocal in its protest against the violence against Sikhs in Delhi that erupted after the assassination of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his wife Indira Gandhi. While the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Party (RSS) and the Indian National Congress (INC) opposed the partition of India in 1947, the Hindu nationalist party, the Congress Party, opposed it. During partition, while supporting Operation Bluestars, the BJP protested strongly against a series of attacks on the Sikh community in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, as well as India’s involvement in the war against Pakistan.
While Atal Bihari Vajpayee was previously praised for his handling of Gujarat’s riots during the 2002 riots, his government has been criticized for failing to respond to the riots that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee takes the oath of office as Prime Minister of India during the swearing-in ceremony on November 5, 1995 at the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi, India. At a BJP meeting in Mumbai in November 1995, BJP President L.K. Advani stated that Vaj Payee would become President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister of India if the BJP wins the next general election in May 1996. On 8 November 1996, Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee announced the signing of a peace agreement with Pakistan to achieve peace with Pakistan. Asked whether Singh supported the deal, Singh said, according to the Indian Express: “We should listen to his conscience and allow the national interest to prevail over narrow politics.”
His first experience of power came under the leadership of Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After the Janat party won the Lok Sabha elections, Vajpayee served as foreign minister for four years before Morarsji desai became prime minister of India.
In 1980, Atalji joined his brother-in-law, former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, and founded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 1980s, Vajpayee founded the Bhartiya Janta Party of BJP, led by Prime Minister Morarji Desai and former Foreign Minister Arun Jaitley, with former Prime Minister LK Advani. In 1980 he founded the Bharat Janat Party, BJP, with his brothers Lal Bihari Vajpeyee and Lal Bhagat Vajpaya.
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh Party, founded on October 21, 1951 by Shri Syama Prasad Mookerjee, is the oldest political party in India and the second oldest in the world. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on October 18, 1953 in Gwalior, Uttar Pradesh, India, and trained early with the Bhartiya Janta Party of the BJP, the BJP’s headquarters in New Delhi. He and his brothers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Lal Bhagat Vajpaya emigrated from the ancestral village of Bateshwar in the state of Uttar to G Walior. Vaj Payee is the son of a schoolteacher, Krishna Bibyaswami Vajpeyee and Krishna Devi.