Friday, August 17, 2018

Our Great Leader Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Our Great Leader Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

It was time of 1977 Parliament elections rallies in Ahmedabad, when I saw and heard him first time at Khanpur. We Amdavadi were great fans of his lyrical speeches of great oratory. One could easily swim in his thoughts and get inspired standing at any corner of the ground full with large crowd. Pandit Nehru was the first to identify the jewel, had rightly saw a Prime Minister in him. He was so warm and open hearted man that he not only admired the victory of India over Pakistan in 1971 war but also praised the then PM Indira Gandhi as Durga. He gave a speech a day prior to Babri Demolition in 1992, but kept himself away on the day of demolition of the mosque. His didn’t hesitate declaring caste inequality a major reason of slavery of the nation under foreign rules.

His destiny was the Chair of PM of India. He was a stenographer of great nationalist Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Mr. Mukherjee returned him from the border of Kashmir to serve the Mother land and accepted the Jail of Kashmir for himself, where he died in custody. He presented us a great leader of love warmth and vision.

He became PM of India as an MP of Ahmedabad. It was that 13 days short tenure in 1996. He came to Ahmedabad to thank the voters but his party naughty men played dhotiya kand in public removing dhoti of the veteran Atmaram Patel who was siding with the dissidents. He lost the Chair as couldn’t garner the majority, but returned to the power gaining strength from General Elections of 1998. Brave Pokhran-II nuclear test was conducted in May 1998, but after 13 months, he lost the Chair by just one vote. His tenure was very effective for his full scale peace process with Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue, Lahore declaration, Delhi-Lahore bus, etc, many steps of goodwill gestures.

"It was on February, 19, 1999, at a reception in the Governor's House, Islamabad, Pakistan, Vajpayee recited a poem, 'Ab Jung naa hone denge hum" (Lets say NO to war). Following this, he delivered a speech, which had managed to impress all. Nawaz Sharif too was so impressed that he walked up to him and said 'Vajpayee sahab ab toh Pakistan mein bhi election jeet sakte hain. (Mr Vajpayee you can win elections even in Pakistan now)"

But Pakistan gave Kargil war in return. He regained his position in General Elections of 1999 and graced the Chair of the PM of India comfortably from 1999 to 2004 except few major uncomfortable events of IC 814 plane hijacking to Kandhar to release the terrorist Masood Azhar, the Parliament attack by the terrorists and Gujarat violence. He broke the ice with Pakistan and during the visit of President of Pakistan Parvez Musharraf at Agra, at one point, it was felt that the Kashmir dispute might had been resolved by accepting LOC as IOC but the efforts failed.

In October 1997, at a meeting with three British diplomats, Govindacharya reportedly called Vajpayee the party's mukhota (mask) and identified party president L K Advani as real leader created storm in the party. Vajpayee took serious objection to the derogatory remarks. Govindacharya was removed and was replaced by Narendra Modi. This was a turning point in the life of Mr. Modi as he became the bridge between the RSS and the Government when the party came in power. He saw the polity very closely and when given an opportunity to become CM of Gujarat, he excelled, ruled the State for 13 years and now at the verge of successful completion of his first five years tenure as PM India.

Vajpayeeji’s pet projects of National Highways Development, PMGSY, Sarwa Siksha Abhiyan, were very popular. He added a word of science in the popular slogan: जय जवान जय किशान जय विज्ञान। Indian foreign policy took a right shift. The reforms initiated by Narasimha Rao goverment were stalled due to unstable governments during 1996-99, he put the economy on track through reform and perform. Leaving the protocol aside, he attended the funeral of Madhavrao Scindia respecting him as the royal chair of his native Gwalior State in October 2001.

His slogan India Shining didn’t win General Elections of 2004 but he registered permanent mark of his presence in the hearts of all Indians.

I met him personally when he visited Kutch as a Leader of the Opposition in 1994. It was a scarcity year and he visited couple of scarcity works. A day long association with him traveling to the district was a great memory to cherish for the life. I was very positive and enthusiastic in picturing Kutch as great investment destination. Equal to the size of Israel, when I gave great narration and potentially of the land and has capacity to grow like Israel, he with a lovely smile admired my vision with a pat on the back and told to feel like the President of Kutch. At Gandhidham, one follower presented him a painting of his picture. I remember the first line he wrote, बढ़ता क़द ढलती छाया ... Impressed by his simplicity, love and affections, I became his fan forever.

Keshubhai Patel, the then CM during his visit to the district was remembering his association with Vajpayeeji when he drove a jeep, traveling in the district with him and became his loyal for the life. With his one word, he gave away the chair of the CM though he had majority support of the MLAs.

The second occasion was to see him closely during his visit to Kutch after the devastating earthquake of Kutch on 31 January 2001. When the whole of the district was under shocks and after shocks, total blackout, houses collapsed, hundreds of people perished, wheels of life were stopped, vehicles became toys without diesel and drivers and barefooted we were busy walking and trying to establish rescue, recovery and relief operations. A challenge before us was to present the estimated losses before the PM. Suresh Mehta was very furious to get the figures. Somehow, we managed the numbers with applying logic of house damaged (taking 50% of the district) and the death toll of 20000 plus, damages to the roads, rails, bridges, substations, etc. He visited Bhuj, Bhachau and Ahmedabad, saw the devastation, met affected people and returned. He came with lot of relief materials including one big community RO Plant. All other stocks were matched but the RO Plant sent by the PMO was missing. We tressed through the truck drivers but were not getting any clue. Finally, it was found out from the custody of the BAPS camp where it was put in use to serve the community displaced by the earthquake. During his visit to the district in June 2001, many announcements of rehabilitation packages, tax holidays, infrastructure building, etc, had paved the way of Industrial Development of Kutch.

Bharat Ratna (2015) he was a jewel of India. We lost the great and loving son, visionary leader, philosopher and guide of Mother India.

Rest in Peace our Dearest Leader. 🙏

17 August 2018


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