Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bihari also spelled Behari, (born December 25, 1924, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India—died August 16,
2018, New Delhi, Delhi), leader of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and twice prime minister of India (1996;
Early life and education
Early life and education
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 school teacher in his hometown.Vajpayee did his schooling at the Saraswati Shishu Mandir
in Gwalior. In 1934, Atal Bihari was admitted to AVM School Barnagar Distt Ujjain after his father joined as headmaster.
He spoke about his ‘lifechanging moment’ at a public rally on the 1996 Lok Sabha election trail. He said “But I learned a
lesson that changed my life. I took a pledge I’d never rote-learn a speech. It was my first speech at AVM (Anglo
Vernacular Middle) School,”. He subsequently attended Gwalior’s 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.
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
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 India’s testing
of several nuclear weapons in 1998. He had earlier been praised for his conciliatory gestures toward India’s Muslim
minority. In 2000 his government began an extensive program of divestment of public funds from several key state-run
industries. In 2002 Vajpayee’s 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 India’s 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
Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics at the end of 2005. In late December 2014 he was awarded the Bharat
Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Vajpayee remained a bachelor his entire life.He adopted and raised Namita Bhattacharya as his own child, the daughter of
longtime friend Rajkumari Kaul and BN Kaul. His adopted family lived with him.
Unlike purist Brahmins who shun meat and alcohol, Vajpayee was known to be fond of whisky and meat. He was a noted poet,
writing in Hindi. His published works include Kaidi kavirai ki kundalian, a collection of poems written when he was
imprisoned during the 1975–77 emergency, and Amar aag hai. With regard to his poetry he wrote, “My poetry is a
declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier’s drumbeat of despair, but the fighting
warrior’s will to win. It is not the despirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory.
Vajpayee suffered a stroke in 2009 which impaired his speech.His health had been a major source of concern; reports said
he was confined to a wheelchair and failed to recognise people. He also suffered from dementia and long-term diabetes.
For many years, he had not attended any public engagements and rarely ventured out of the house, except for checkups at
the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences.
On 11 June 2018, Vajpayee was admitted to AIIMS in critical condition following a kidney infection.He was officially
declared dead there at 5:05 pm IST on 16 August 2018 at the age of 93.However some sources claim that he had passed away
on the previous day. On the morning of 17 August, Vajpayee’s body draped with the Indian flag was taken to the Bharatiya
Janata Party headquarters where party workers paid their tributes until 1 p.m. Later that afternoon at 4 p.m., Vajpayee
was cremated with full state honours at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal near Raj Ghat, his pyre was lit by his foster daughter
Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.Thousands of people and many dignitaries attended his funeral procession including Prime
Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind.On 19 August, his ashes were immersed in Ganga river at Haridwar by
his daughter Namita