India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away today (16 August, Thursday) at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) due to kidney and urinary infection and chest congestion. He was 93.
Vajpayee was often described as the moderate leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He served as the country’s Prime Minister on three ocassions. First in 1996 for 13 days then in 1998 for 13 months and then for a term of 5 years from 1999. He was India’s first non- Congress Prime Minsiter to complete a term of five.
Here is a Timeline of his Political Journey:
25 December 1924 :
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born in Gwalior and completed his schooling from Saraswati Shishu Mandir. He completed his MA in Political Science from DAV college in Kanpur.
August 1942 :
Vajpayee participated in the Quit India Movement and was arrested along with his elder brother.
Started working for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a right wing party associated with the RSS. Became the National Secretary of BJS in Delhi.
Appointmented as the National President of the Jana Sangha and started working with Lal Krishna Advani, Nanaji Deshmukh and Balraj Madhok and made Jana Sangha a prominent party in Indian politics.
12 November 1973 :
Arrived at the Parliament in a Bullock cart to protest against the rising petrol and kerosene prices.
Indira Gandhi emposed emergency in 1975 and Vajpayee along with top opposition leaders had to spend months in prison. Post emergency, the Janata Party dethroned Congress for the very first time and Morarji Desai was appointed the Prime Minister. In his cabinet, Vajpayee became the Minister of External Affairs. Later that year Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi.
Along with Lal Krishna Advani and Bhairaon Singh Shekhawat, Vajpayee founded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was appointed it’s first president.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31st October and in the elections to follow, the Congress swept the elections. In a 545 member Lok Sabha, BJP won only 2 seats. Vajpayee himslep lost at his birthplace, Gwalior. In 1989, the BJP won 88 seats.
The BJP emerged as the leading opposition party having won 120 seats.
The year that is best known for the tragic incident of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Vajpayee was the only among the Hindu nationalists to condemn it. He called the incident, ‘the worst miscalculation’. In the same year he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
Vajpayee became the Prime Minister for the first time which lasted for only 13 days, from May 16 to May 28.
He became the Prime Minister for the second time which lasted for 13 months. On 11 May, India conducted its first official nuclear test in Rajasthan’s Pokhran. In the same year he launched the ”Sada-e-Sarhad’ a bus service between New Delhi and Lahore however, the service was suspended in 2001 after the terror attack on Indian Parliament.
Vajpayee led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power during the time of the Kargil War. Vajpayee supported the armed forces and took a firm stand at the world stage. Post Kargil War, he was elected the Prime Minister for the third time which made him India’s first non-Congress Prime minister to complete his tenure.
It was the year that marked the horiffic Gujarat riots when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of the state. Vajpayee expressed his displeasure with Modi, where hundreds of people died in a communal war.
Vajpayee failed to return to power in the 2004 General Elections and later that year left active politics, marking an end to his long and eventful political career.
He was conferred with India’s highest civillian award, the Bharat Ratna.