What is the age of death? Not even a couple of moments
Life is a progression, it’s not a matter of a day or two!
– Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior. His grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, had migrated to Morena, Gwalior from his ancestral village of Bateshwar, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, was a poet and a schoolmaster in his hometown.
Born in the family of a humble school teacher on December 25, 1924, in the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior (now a part of the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh), Vajpayee’s rise in public life is a tribute to both his political acumen and Indian democracy. Over the decades, he has emerged as a leader who commands respect for his liberal worldview and commitment to democratic ideals. While he was just a student, he aligned himself to the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (R.S.S.) and later become its “Pracharak”.
Vajpayee’s first brush with nationalist politics was in his student days when he joined the Quit India Movement of 1942 which hastened the end of British colonial rule. A student of political science and law, it was in college that he developed a keen interest in foreign affairs – an interest he has nourished over the years and put to skilful use while representing India at various multilateral and bilateral fora.
The first election that Vajpayee won was from the Balrampur Lok Sabha (parliamentary) constituency of Uttar Pradesh in 1957. He is fondly called ‘Baapji’ by his close relatives and friends. He remained single for his entire life and later adopted a daughter named Namita. He loves Indian music and dance. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a nature lover and Manali in Himachal Pradesh is one of his favourite retreats.
His first encounter with politics occurred in August 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement. Vajpayee and his elder brother Prem faced arrest for 23 days. He joined the Bharatiya Jana Sangh when it was newly formed in 1951 and subsequently, he was motivated by the party leader Shri Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
He is a lover of Hindi languages but it doesn’t mean that he is averse to other languages. He is a versatile and dynamic personality. He is a writer, a journalist and an instant composer, in verses. He has been a seasoned Parliamentarian for the past forty years.
Shri Vajpayee is the first figure, who addresses the U.N.O. in Hindi on 4th October 1977. He was adorned with “Padma Vibhushan” by the Indian Govt. on 25th January 1992. This was followed by another honour bestowed upon him by the U.P. Hindi Sansthan on 28th September 1992. And then on 16th August 1994 “Govind Vallabh Pant Award” was conferred upon him for his being the Best Parliamentarian. Once he said on his birthday, “Every year, on 25th December, I scale a new round of life. On this turning point of my life, I wrestle with myself more than with others.” The following words of his go to prove that he is a true humanitarian and a very sensitive soul:
“O Lord! Never lift me up to such a mighty height as to make me forget to embrace my fellow-beings”.
None other than first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru had predicted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee will become Prime Minister of India one day. This is not known by many people and this is a piece of a gem as an unknown fact.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee always wanted to become a journalist but as he told in an interview, “came to politics by mistake”.
Though Vajpayee has retired from active politics, his words still reverberate in our ears and shall continue for generations. Here are a few inspirational and thought-provoking quotes by Atal Bihari Vajpayee
“Truth cannot be hidden for fear that somebody would exploit it.”
“Global interdependence today means that economic disasters in developing countries could create a backlash on developed countries.”
“In the euphoria after the Cold War, there was a misplaced notion that the UN could solve every problem anywhere.”
“Politics is a game of compromise. ”
“You can change friends but not neighbours.”
-Atal Bihari Vajpayee