Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first non-Congress politician who completed five years as Prime Minister. Atal Bihari Vajpayee has some great achievement on his name when who took the charge of India’s PM, from leading a delegation at United Nations to introducing Lahore bus service to resolving the vexed Kashmir issue with Pakistan, Vajpayee won the hearts of Indians and even the opposition.
Here are the top 10 events that shaped Vajpayee’s PM tenure:
Foreign policy: Vajpayee made sure that he boosted relationship with America, and for that, he invited US president Bill Clinton on India tour and US president made a historic visit in 2000 who became the first American President to visit India since Jimmy Carter in 1978. Apart from USA tie, Vajpayee’s government made sure that India China relationship also becomes strong and for that a structured mechanism for high-level dialogue initiated to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.
Pakistan bus service: In February 19, 1999, he inaugurated the Delhi-Lahore bus service and travelled in it to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. This incident became a symbol of international diplomacy and Vajpayee was lauded for his pragmatism.
India as nuclear power: Vajpayee strategically performed five underground nuclear bomb explosions in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district in May 1998, Under Pokhran-II. This move of Vajpayee put India in the list of nuclear countries.
Kargil War: Vajpayee’s prime minister-ship is also known for India’s win in Kargil, it was the year 1999 when India defeated Pakistan in the war. The war finally came to an end after US President Bill Clinton spoke to Vajpayee on the recommendation of Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan took back its troops after suffering heavy damage.
Education and economic policy: Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, which made education for children aged 6 to 14 years a fundamental right. Besides, he also unveiled the National Highway Development Project (NHDP) to construct world-class highways in India, connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata
First UN speech in Hindi: Atal Bihari Vajpayee delivered first Hindi speech at UNGA on September 13, 2002. It is also remembered as an Indian PM took on Pakistan’s use of terror in the United Nations.
Vajpayee’s 13-day government: His government was in power only for 13 days, as there was lack of members but his speech became memorable in the hearts of Indian when he resigned “Governments come and go and parties are born and disappear. Above it all, the country must stay shining, its democracy immortal,” Vajpayee said.
Leading the first successful coalition government: The first coalition government had just entered in Indian politics and Vajpayee led a large coalition of parties with diverse backgrounds and ideologies and became the first PM to successfully lead such a government.
Kandahar plane hijack: On December 24, 1999, Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 from Kathmandu to New Delhi with 176 passengers and 15 crew members was hijacked by Pakistan-based extremist group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, who demanded the release of three terrorists held in Indian prisons. The then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government surrendered to their demands and the then foreign minister Jaswant Singh himself escorted the terrorists to Kandahar.
Gujarat riots and message for Narendra Modi: Gujarat massacre was a horrifying incident and around 1,000 people lost their life. Vajpayee government was widely criticised for inefficient handling of the violence and earned the then PM a bad name, more so, because a BJP government was in power in Gujarat under Narendra Modi. In a rebuke to the then Gujarat CM, Vajpayee famously stated that Modi should ‘follow his Rajdharma’ and not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed or religion.