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How did Vajpayee respond when Indira Gandhi called Jan Sangh ‘a party of baniyas'

By Vikas Sv

New Delhi, Aug 16: Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away this evening at 5.05 pm, was known for his oratory. The wit and the finesse with which he answered the criticism of the political opponents was truly remarkable.

He was a champion of politics of inclusiveness and took everyone along. Such was his stature that he commanded the respect of even the opposition. He was seen as a statesman from leaders cutting across political parties and in the 90s Vajpayee was even called 'right man in wrong party'.

File photo of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

There is one anecdote which will give a clear idea of how good he was with words and how he would answer most serious of criticisms with a great sense of humour.

This particular answer by Vajpayee to a remark by former prime minister Indira Gandhi was during the 70s when the BJP had not yet taken birth. The party which Vajpayee was part of used to be known as Jan Sangh. It is said that Indira Gandhi had called Jan Sangh a party of Baniyas (a Hindu caste who are predominantly traders).

When Vajpayee came to know that Indira Gandhi had called Jan Sangh a bunch of Baniyas. He responded by saying what Indira meant was that Jan Sangh ka hissa Baniye (Become part of Jan Sangh). Baniya is the name of caste, while Baniye in Hindi means 'become a part of'. Vajpayee said Indira Gandhi's Hindi was not that good so what she meant was that become part of (Baniye) Jan Sangh.

[Bharat Ratna, Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away at age of 93]

So, Vajpayee played with words and gave a witty response to a serious criticism by Indira Gandhi.

[RIP AB Vajpayee: Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics]

The passing away of former Prime Minister of India, Atal Vajpayee has seen an outpouring of grief across the nation. The former PM who was conferred with the Bharat Ratna passed away at AIIMS at 5.05 on August 16.

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