New Delhi: A portrait of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had once gone missing from the South Block in the late 70s, but it was restored following the intervention of the then foreign minister, Atal Bihari Vaypayee.

Vajpayee had shared this anecdote in a speech in Parliament and also praised Nehru for his ability to take criticism from others.

“Friends in the Congress may not believe this, but a portrait of Nehru would hang in South Block. I would see it whenever I passed by,” he had said in his speech.

“Once I had told Panditji that his personality was mixed in nature, and that there was both a (Winston) Churchill and a (Neville) Chamberlain in him,” the veteran politician said, adding that Nehru was “not upset” at that.

“In the evening, I met him at a banquet, and he (Nehru) told me it was a solid speech and walked away smiling. Today, to do such criticism is to invite enmity. People will stop talking,” Vajpayee had said.

When Vajpayee rode a cycle to meet his friends in Gwalior

Gwalior: Long before Vajpayee became Prime Minister, he used to visit the homes of his childhood friends riding a bicycle, much to the surprise of many here in Madhya Pradesh, his niece Kanti Mishra said.

Kanti Mishra said Vajpayee was humble in his conduct despite becoming a towering personality in the Indian politics. “Years ago, Atalji used to take my son Nitin Mishra’s cycle and often visited his childhood friend Deepak, a Kashmiri, to far off Murar area,” Kanti Mishra told PTI.

He used to cycle down to the homes of other childhood friends in the city also, she said. The 75-year-old lives next door to the former PM’s house in Kamal Singh Ka Bagh area, which plunged into grief after the news of Vajpayee’s death came.

                “On hearing about his humble gesture, BJP patriarch Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia once told my Chachaji that if he (Vajpayee) just informs her about his movements in Gwalior, she can send a chauffeur-driven car for him to go around,” said Kanti Mishra.

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