When former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bihari Vajpayee wrote 'Haar nahi manunga, raar ‘nayee’ thanunga’ (‘I will not give up/I will not concede defeat, rather, I will engage in new disagreements’), he perhaps defined his entire political journey in two lines. Vajpayee, who first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1957, had to toil for long 40 years before he could reach the top post. Even when he finally became the Prime Minister in 1996, his government could last only for 16 days, as the BJP failed to muster a majority. It was in 1998 when two united front governments failed, Vajpayee returned as the Prime Minister again, this time for 13 months. His government collapsed again in 1999 after failing the vote of confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by a single vote.
Vajpayee's life journey is full of such setbacks. But it is also a journey of a man who never gave up, who kept rising after being forced to fall down, who never held grudges despite betrayals, who rose to the top post of the country and stayed there for a complete term of five years, despite being ousted from the same post twice in the past.
It was on this day in 1924 when one of the finest statesmen of the Indian polity was born.
Vajpayee was born into a Hindu Brahmin family in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior and did his early schooling in Gwalior and Ujjain. After completing his graduation from Victoria college in Gwalior, he activism started in with Arya Kumar Sabha, the youth wing of the Arya Samaj movement. He later joined the Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS).
Entry in politics
The RSS, in 1951, chose Vajpayee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay to work for the newly formed Bharatiya Jan Sangh, a Hindu right-wing political party. He was appointed as a national secretary of the party in charge of the Northern region, based in Delhi. He soon became a follower and aide of party leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee. Vajpayee contested his first Lok Sabha elections in 1957 and was elected from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh. First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed with Vajpayee's oratory that he predicted Vajpayee would someday become the prime minister of India.
Jan Sangh, Emergency and Janata Party
After death of Deen Dayal Upadhyay in 1968, Vajpayee became the chief of Jan Sangh. He ran the party with other leaders like Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and LK Advani.
Vajpayee, along with several other leaders of opposition, was arrested during the internal emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
After the end of emergency, a coalition of parties including the Jan Sangh, formed the Janata Party, which won election in 1977. Vajpayee was bestowed with responsibility of external affairs ministry. Vajpayee became the first person in 1977 to deliver a speech to the United Nations Gneral Assembly in Hindi.
In 1979, Desai and Vajpayee resigned, triggering the collapse of the Janata Party. The erstwhile members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh came together to form the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980, with Vajpayee as President.
Prime Minister of India
After toiling for over four decades, and short tenures as PM in 1996 and 1998, Vajpayee once again became the Prime Minister of India in 1999. The elections were held in the aftermath of Kargil war. The BJP-led NDA won 303 seats out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, securing a comfortable and stable majority.
As a Prime Minister, many national achievements and policies are attributed to Vajpayee like- domestic economic and infrastructural reforms, including encouraging the private sector and foreign investments, reducing governmental waste, encouraging research and development and privatisation of some government owned corporations, National highways development project, Pradhan mantri gram sadak yojana and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan.
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