India's former prime minister and BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee is celebrating his 89th birthday today. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, is another leader who shares birthday with Vajpayee.
Vajpayee was born on 25th December, 1924 in a Brahmin family in Gwalior. He served as prime minister for three consecutive terms and he is regarded as the most popular leader of Bharatiya Janata Party. He had been elected to the Lok Sabha nine times and twice to the Rajya Sabha and he holds the distinction of being the only non-Congress leader ever to have served a full term as Prime Minister of India.
Vajpayee, when he was 18-year-old, took part in Quit India movement and was imprisoned in 1942 with many others. A lawyer by training, he is well-versed in Hindi, Sanskrit and English. He was known for his fiery speeches in parliament. He won applauds when he delivered a speech in Hindi in United Nations General Assembly in 1977.
Vajpayee led the nation on many vital situations like Kargil war, India's first Nuclear test 'Operation Shakthi' and he was the prime minister when the 2001 parliament attack and 2002 Godhra riot happened.
Kargil war proved to be a litmus test for Vajpayee government. Pakistan troops infiltrated into India's territory in Kashmir valley and captured the control of unmanned border posts in 1999. As the prime minister Vajpayee took a firm stand, leading India to victory in Kargil and forcing Pakistan to withdraw their troops from India's territory. In 2002, a US diplomat revealed that Vajpayee stood brave and refused to give in to Pakistan's efforts in 1999.
In spite of the war, Vajpayee also made efforts to boost the bilateral ties with Pakistan.
His economic policies are also widely lauded. Projects like Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana, Golden Quadrilateral which links India's four ends, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan, river linking project, east-west corridor and telecom revolution are some of his achievements.
Vajpayee, unlike most of the politicians, lead a very simple life. He is also a widely acclaimed poet. His health started deteriorating in early 2000 and he has undergone 10 surgeries in past. Totally confined to wheel chair, Vajpayee is reportedly suffering from dimentia and chronic diabetics.