OdishaLIVE Bureau

Oldest living Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away today. He was admitted to AIIMS New Delhi since the past 9 weeks with ailing kidneys and a respiratory tract infection. His poor health led him to be confined to his residence in Delhi since the past few years. Top leaders cutting across party lines mourned the death of the political stalwart irrespective of their ideology.

Three time PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was jailed during the emergency of 1975. Post emergency he formed the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and headed it from 1968 to 1972. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for ten times and twice to the Rajya Sabha. His birthday on December 25 is marked as Good Governance Day. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour the Bharat ratna in 2014.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not merely a politician; he was an astute statesman. He started pioneering schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan to strengthen primary and secondary education across the country. National Highways Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana to connect rural and urban areas was his brainchild.

He braved international sanctions to go forward with Operation Shakti, India’s second nuclear test Pokhran II at Pokhran in Rajasthan desert. Former President APJ Abdul kalam was also involved here. Nations like Russia and France had supported India in a bid to develop self defense nuclear weapons while US imposed sanctions which were lifted after a few months. It was under his able leadership that the army successfully thwarted Pakistani intrusion in Kargil which was called Operation Vijay.

The former PM under his government introduced a slew of reforms like free market economy, bilateral relations with the US among others. Economic reforms brought about by his government saw an unprecedented growth rate of 6-7 %. He was the first delegate in the UN General Assembly to address the world in Hindi.

As the nation’s premier, he started a full scale peace process with neighbors Pakistan while signing the Lahore declaration to initiate trade, mutual understanding and peace talks with the hostile country. Delhi Lahore bus service flagged off in February 1999 were a result of his peace keeping efforts.

An orator par excellence and a poet of repute, he had penned various poetry anthologies with words that rouse the spirit of patriotism. He confessed that he does not write the words of a defeated soldier rather he writes to encourage the soldier to get up and fight his battles. His famous poems include Do Anoobhootiyan, Manali Mat Jaiyo, Kadam Milakar Chalna Hoga among others. He famously remarked in the parliament on politics “Satta aati jaati rahegi par Ye desh rehna chahiye, iss desh ka loktantra amar rehna chahiye”.(Governments would change every day but the country should be saved and the democracy preserved). OdishaLIVE mourns the demise of the noble soul. RIP Atal Bihari Vajpayee Poet, PM, Statesman.