New Delhi, Aug 15: Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hailed as Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics, is no more. Untainted personal and political life, gifted oratory skills and statesmanship in Parliament proceedings made him the tallest political figure of the post-Independent India.
The title 'Bhishma Pitamah' is not given by his friends or party, but by the opposition party. Is there a better testimony to his statesmanship than an opposition party leader heaping praise on a former PM?
Praising Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for taking "courageous steps" to foster peace with Pakistan, then PM Manmohan Singh described Vajpayee as "Bhishma Pitamah" of Indian politics and urged him to rise above narrow party politics and support the India-U.S. nuclear deal in.
Managing BJP's image in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots in 2002, indeed, was a big challenge to the Vajpayee government. Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat, when Narendra Modi was chief minister, claimed more than 1,000 people.
The reporter wanted to know Vajpayee's message for the chief minister. In controlled displeasure, Vajpayee stated that Modi should 'follow his Rajdharma'. He explained that Rajdharma was a meaningful term, and for somebody in a position of power, it meant not discriminating among the higher and lower classes of society or people of any religion. He officially condmended Godhra carnage and Gujarat communal violence.
In a bid to stop Vajpayee from saying something scathing about him, Modi turned towards Vajpayee, tried to catch his eye and said with a strong note of threatening defiance, 'Hum bhi wahi kar rahe hain, sahib (That is what we are also doing, sir).' Vajpayee immediately changed tack and said, 'I am sure Narendrabhai is also doing the same.'
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister LK Advani. The two entered politics almost at the same time decades ago and remained each other's trusted advisor and friend ever since.
Vajpayee with Narendra Modi
Then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seeks blessings of senior BJP leader and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. Modi was on Friday declared as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, after a meeting of the party's Parliamentary board. PTI file Photo
Vajpayee BJP senior leaders
Then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with senior BJP leader and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Rajnath Singh in Ranchi in Nov 2004. Modi was on Friday declared as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, after a meeting of the party's Parliamentary board. PTI Photo
In public funtion
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with senior BJP leader and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani at a public meetin Ahmedabad in Nov 2004
Vajpayee with Nelson Mandela
File photo of former South African President Nelson Mandela with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee a the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Durban in Sept 1998. Mandela, 95, died on Thursday in Johannesburg. PTI
Vajpayee with Bal Thackeray
In this file photo Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is seen with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP President Nitin Gadkari at a book release function in Mumbai on Feb 23, 2005.
Vajpayee with IK Gujral
Former PM IK Gujral greeting Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday in New Delhi on Dec 25, 1997.