Atal Bihari Vajpayee born on December 25, 1924, at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India. He died on August 16, 2018, New Delhi. He was a leader of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and twice prime minister of India (1996; 1998–2004).
He was an Indian politician who served thrice as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then for a full term from 1999 to 2004.
Atal Bihari 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 extremists.
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 office.
Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics at the end of 2005. In December 2005, he declared that he would not contest in the next general election. In a famous statement at the BJP’s silver jubilee rally at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, Vajpayee announced that “Henceforth, Lal Krishna Advani and Pramod Mahajan will be the Ram-Laxman [the two godly brothers much revered and worshipped by Hindus] of the BJP.
In late December 2014, he was conferred India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. The Modi government declared in 2014 that Vajpayee’s birthday, 25 December, would be marked as Good Governance Day.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee has visited several countries, first in 1965 as a member of the Parliamentary Goodwill Mission to East Africa. He was also part of the Parliamentary Delegations to Australia in 1967, the European Parliament in 1983, and Canada in 1987.
He was part of the official Indian Delegation to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings held in Canada in 1966 and 1994, Zambia in 1980, and the Isle of Man in 1984. He was in the Indian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference, Japan in 1974, Sri Lanka in 1975; and Switzerland in 1984.
He was a regular at the UN General Assembly, having been part of the Indian Delegations in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. He led the Indian Delegation to the Human Rights Commission Meeting at Geneva in 1993 and the Delegation of Standing Committees of External Affairs to Gulf countries i.e. Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained a bachelor his entire life. He adopted Namita Bhattacharya, the daughter of BN Kaul and Rajkumari Kaul. He was fond of Indian music and dance. He loved nature and one of his favorite retreats was Manali in Himachal Pradesh. He was a published poet, and 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 dispirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory.
He received a number of awards during his journey like in 1992, Padma Vibhushan, in 1993 D. Lit. from Kanpur University, in 1994, Lokmanya Tilak Award, in 1994 Outstanding Parliamentarian Award , in 1994 Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant Award, in 2015 Bharat Ratna , in 2015 Bangladesh Liberation War honour etc.
Atal Bihari 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 recognize 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. He died at 5:05 pm on 16 August 2018 at AIIMS hospital due to age-related illness.