Atal BehariVajpayee

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Atal BehariVajpayee was the Prime Minister of India from March 19, 1998 to May 22, 2004. A multi-faceted political personality, Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to parents Krishna Behari Vajpayee, a school teacher and Krishna Devi. He studied at Victoria alias Laxmibai College, Gwalior and D.A.V. College, Kanpur. A postgraduate in Political Science, Vajpayee's first brush with nationalist politics was in his student days, when he joined the Quit India Movement of 1942 which hastened the end of British colonial rule. As student, he developed a keen interest in foreign affairs and nourished it over the years and put to skillful use while representing India at various multilateral and bilateral forays. For a while Vajpayee studied law, but midstream he chose to become a journalist. This choice was largely influenced by the fact that as a student he had been an activist in India's struggle for freedom. He edited Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. However, his journalist's career was cut short in 1951 when he joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh. As a founder- member of the Jana Sangh (1951-1977) and later Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) he served as the party's president and took it to new heights. He served as the BJP's president for the first five years of its existence, laying the foundation for the party's awesome growth. As a parliamentarian, Vajpayee has the rare distinction of being elected to the Lok Sabha nine times and to the Rajya Sabha twice. He is the only parliamentarian to have been elected from four different States at different times namely UP, Gujarat, MP and Delhi. He served as External] Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai-led Janata Government from 1977 to 1979. He was Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha (1993) and also served as a Chairperson of a number of parliamentary committees. He served as Prime Minister for a short stint (thirteen days) in 1996 Later on March 19, 1998, he took charge as Prime Minister of India and again on October 13, 1999 for the second consecutive term as the head of a new coalition government, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Vajpayee was involved with several social and cultural activities. The Krishna Behari Vajpayee Trust set up by him in the name of his late father promotes a number of constructive activities for the uplift of the deprived and poor as well as children. He has been a Member of the National Integration Council since 1961. Some of his other associations include being President of All India Station Masters and Assistant Station Masters Association (1965-70); Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smarak Samiti (1968-84); Deen Dayal Dham, Farah, Mathurs, U.P; and Janmabhomi Smarak Samiti, 1969 onwards. Vajpayee was known for his speeches. Some of his quotes relating to the UN are: "In the euphoria after the Cold War, there was a misplaced notion that the UN could solve every problem anywhere"; "The reality is that international institutions like the UN can only be as effective as its members allow it to be"; "The UN's unique legitimacy flows from a universal perception that it pursues a larger purpose than the interests of one country or a small group of countries"; "There was an implicit conviction that the UN would be stronger than the sum of its constituent member-states". During his tenure, he made several attempts to build bridges with Pakistan including the Lahore Bus Diplomacy. Some of his powerful quotes in the same context are: "No state

should be allowed to profess partnership with the global coalition against terror, while continuing to aid, abet and sponsor terrorism"; "Our nuclear weapons are meant purely as a deterrent against nuclear adventure by an adversary"; "People who ask us when we will hold talks with Pakistan are perhaps not aware that over the last 55 years, every initiative for a dialogue with Pakistan has invariably come from India". "The overwhelming public sentiment in India was that no meaningful dialogue can be held with Pakistan until it abandons the use of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy"; "We believe that the United States and the rest of the international community can play a useful role by exerting influence on Pakistan to put a permanent and visible end to crossborder terrorism against India"; "We hope the world will act in the spirit of enlightened selfinterest". Besides being an eloquent speaker and a voracious reader, Vajpayee was well-known and respected for his love for poetry. His published works include Men Ikkyavan Kavitayen, Amar Aag Hai (collection of poems), Sankalp Kaal, Shakti-se-Shanti, Meri Sansadiya Yatra (in four volumes), Four Decades in Parliament (speeches 1957-95 in three volumes), Lok Sabha mein Atalji (a collection of speeches), Mrityu Ya Hatya, Amar Balidan, Kaidi Kaviraj Ki Kundalian (a collection of poems written in jail during Emergency), New Dimensions of India's Foreign Policy (a collection of speeches delivered as External Affairs Minister during 1977-79), Jan Sangh Aur Mussalman, etc . Vajpayee's stature was of a national leader with mass appeal who commanded respect for his liberal worldview and commitment to democratic ideals. In 1992, India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, was conferred upon him in recognition of his selfless dedication to his first and only love, India, and his more than half-a- century of service to society and the nation. In 1993, he was conferred Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by Kanpur University. In 1994, he was named India's 'Best Parliamentarian'. The same year, he was also conferred with the Lok Many a Tilak Puraskar. A Bachelor throughout his life, Vajpayee had participated in freedom struggle and went to jail in 1942. He was also detained during Emergency in 1975-77. He has special interest for international affairs, uplift of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and woman and child welfare. Reading, writing, travelling and cooking have remained his favorite pastime and recreation activities. Vajpayee is also widely travelled having visited several countries, the first being in 1965 as Member of Parliamentary Goodwill Mission to East Africa. He was also part of the Parliamentary Delegations to Australia, 1967; European Parliament, 1983; and Canada, 1987. He was part of the official Indian Delegation to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings held in Canada, 1966 and 1994, Zambia 1980, and Isle of Man 1984. He was on Indian Delegation to Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference, Japan, 1974; Sri Lanka, 1975; and Switzerland, 1984. He had been regular to the UN General Assembly as part of Indian Delegation in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. He led the Indian Delegation to Human Rights Commission Meeting at Geneva in 1993 and Delegation of Standing Committees of External Affairs to Gulf countries i.e. Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

'Baapji' as affectionately called by his close friends and relatives has two adopted daughters Namita and Neharika. He is fond of Indian music and dance. He loves nature and one of his favorite retreats is Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

He was one of the first to voice Indias opposition to the unequal Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and he made it clear that his country would sign NPT only when the nuclear power gave convincing evidence of their desire to ban and destroy nuclear weapons. As a parliamentarian Mr. Vajpayee has been a member of Lok Sabha nine times and of Rajya Sabha twice. As the leader of the opposition in the tenth and eleventh Lok Sabha he served on various parliamentary committees. Twice he led Indian delegation to the United Nations and he was the member of Indian delegation to the UN at least seven times. The nation has honoured him with Padam Vibhushan and Best Parliamentarian Award. The elevation of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister of India on March 19, 1998, nearly 22 month after he had to resign as prime minister for lack of adequate number of votes for his newly formed government, was the reward of his sterling qualities of patience, perseverance, liberalism and lack of bitterness even for his worst critics. After coming into power Vajpayee had to face problems but he faced all the problems with courage and sincerity.

May 11, 1998 was truly a golden day when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced to the nation and rest of the world the successful underground nuclear test in Pokhran. At the same time he also made it clear Indias stand on nuclear weapons that she wanted peace, harmony and has no intention of becoming a nuclear power. Perhaps Mr. Vajpayee innate love for arts, literature and culture has made him totally different breed of politician, a true gentleman with deep compassion and integrity he has shown that to gain popularity, it is not necessary to stoop to cheap popular gimmicks. He has taken ups and downs of his political life with great equanimity and bears malice towards none. He is among the very few politicians who know how to respect the viewpoint of their opponents and at the same time, expose his rivals to the full view of the public without leaving any trail of bitterness. He is truly a parliamentarian par excellence. Besides being a politician he is an excellent poet and writer. His poems are patriotic carrying message of love, peace harmony and goodwill. True to his name, Atalji is an eminent national leader, an erudite politician, a selfless social worker, forceful orator, poet, journalist and indeed a multifaceted personality. He is ideal for the masses. Mr. Vajpayee is basically a man of peace. His Bus Diplomacy whereby he travelled to Pakistan in a bus to seek lasting peace with Pakistan, Indias erstwhile part (though he was betrayed by Kargil) and his declaration of no-first use of nuclear option, as also destruction of nuclear arsenal provided there is full disarmament of nuclear weapons, are some of illustrations of his peaceful intentions. No wonder NDA won a majority support in 1999 elections and Mr. Vajpayee became 13th Prime Minister of the country and occupied the office till May 2004. It was his third stint as Prime Minister since 1996. The clear message that clearly springs from his deeds is that even under the most trying circumstances we must never lose our values that have so long been our guiding star. When you get into a light and everything goes against you, and it seems as though you could not hold in a minute longer, never give up then for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. This is the light imparted by and emanates from Ataljis personality. In 2004 Lok Sabha Election NDA of which leader was Atal Bihari Vajpayee got a stunning defeat in the hands of Congress and its allies and thus the opportunity of Vajpayee becoming prime minister of India fourth time was lost. NDA BJP alliance which had more than 300 seats in the 13th Lok Sabha managed only to secure 185 seats far behind the magic number of majority. On the counting day of votes as the reports of NDA defeat paired in Vajpayee and his entire Cabinet decided to step down. Undoubtedly during his premiership Atalji did some excellent works foremost of them was the improvement of relationship with Indias archrival Pakistan. On International for he did every possible things which might project India in a good light before the world.

He is not now the prime minister but his deeds are indelibly imprinted on the minds of assesses and his name will be written in golden letters in the history of India. Short biography of Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The Tallest Politician of India. Excerpts from his poem Oonchai, written on being conferred the Padama Vibhushan on April 24, 1992. It was on December 25, 1924, this pious day of Christmas that Atal Bihari Vajpayee a true son of motherland was born in Gwalior in a respected educated family. His father Pandit Krishan Bihari Vajpayee was a school teacher and grandfather Pandit Shyam lal was a renowned Sanskrit scholar. Mr. Vajpayee had his education in Gwaiior. He did his post-graduation from Victoria College (now Lakshmi Bai College) and his post graduation in political science from DAV College, Kanpur. For sometime he studied, but in the midstream he chose to become a journalist, he worked for Rashtra Dharma, a monthly and Panchjanya, a weekly, and Swadesh and Veer Arjuan, both dailies. The 75 year old Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee, whom Jawaharlal Nehru had once introduced to Winston Churchill as the future Prime Minister of this country 40 years ago has really travelled a long way to emerge as Indias towering politician, a leader who commands respect and admiration not only of his party men but even of his rivals, not to speak of million of his admirers across the world. The man is loved for his qualities of head and heart, his poetry, his integrity boldness, patriotism, qualities of forget and forgive, and the principle of consensus. He is one of the few who can brave the worst travails in life and political career, and came out unscathed. Mr. Vajpayees political career started when he was elected to Lok Sabha from Balrampur (UP) in 1957. He won from Gwalior in 1971 from New Delhi in 1977 and 1980 and from Lucknow 1989, 1991, 1998 and 1999. Mr. Vajpayee was the leader of Jansangh Parliamentary party from 1957 to 1977, president of Jansangh from 1968 to 1973 and founder president of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) which was born after the split of Janta Party that stormed to the power on the crest, of anti-emergency wave in 1977. During the dark days of emergency, Vajpayee was in detention from 1957 to 1977 and when Janta government headed by Morarji Desai came to power Vajpayee became the external affairs minister.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Hindi: ; pronounced [l bari adpeji]; born 25 December 1924) is an Indian statesman who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India three times first for a brief term of 13 days in 1996, and then for two terms from 1998 to 2004. After his first brief period as Prime Minister in 1996, Vajpayee headed a coalition government from 19 March 1998 until 19 May 2004. A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha a record nine times, and to the Rajya Sabha twice.[1] He served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Vajpayee belongs to Right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is seen as liberal face of the BJP. He is gifted orator and also a poet.

Early life and educationAtal Bihari Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on Christmas day in 1924 in a Hindu family. His birthplace was Shinde Ki Chhavani, a town in the Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh (then known as Central Province). Vajpayee's grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, had migrated to Gwalior from his ancestral village of Bateshwar, Uttar Pradesh; Vajpayee's father, Krishna Bihari, was a poet and schoolmaster in his hometown. Atal Bihari Vajpayee attended Gwalior's Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College), and graduated with distinctions in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He received a Degree of Post Graduation (M.A.) in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur, securing first-class marks.[2] He later joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and served the Rashtradharma, Veer Arjun and Panchjanya newspapers as a journalist and poet. Vajpayee never married, becoming the first and, to date, only bachelor Prime Minister of India.

Early political careerVajpayee's first contact with politics occurred in 1942, when he was arrested during the Quit India civil disobedience campaign, and spent 23 days in prison; he was released without charge before coming to trial.[3][4][5] He soon became a close follower and aide to Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS). In 1953, Vajpayee was at Mookerjee's side when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir to protest against perceived inferior treatment of non-Kashmiri Indian visitors in Kashmir. Mookerjee's fast and protest ended the identity carrogram, the centerpiece of Indian national security at the time. In 1957, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha, where his oratorical skills so impressed then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he predicted Vajpayee would someday be India's Prime Minister.[6][7]. Until his retirement Vajpayee remained member of Loksabha except for 3rd, 10th and 11th Loksabha . By his exceptional oratorical and organizing skill he became the face of Jansangh. He along with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and Lalkrishana Advani led Jansangh to national prominence. In 1977, Vajpayee became the Minister for External Affairs under the Janata government. That same year, he also became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. By the time the Janata government crumbled in 1979, Vajpayee had long since established his credentials as an experienced statesman and respected political leader.[8]

[edit] The rise of the BJP

Morarji Desai resigned as Prime Minister in 1979, and the Janata Party was dissolved soon after. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh had devoted its political organization to sustain the coalition, and was left exhausted by the internecine political wars within the Janata Party. Atal Bihari Vajpayee joined many BJS and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) colleagues, particularly his long-time and close friends Lal Krishna Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to found the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. Vajpayee was made the BJP's first President, and became a strong critic of the Congress (I) government that followed the rule of the Janata Party. While the BJP opposed the Sikh militancy that was rising in the state of Punjab, it also blamed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for divisive and corrupt politics that fostered such militancy at expense of the nation. Leader Darasingh opines that Vajpayee thus "brought in Hindu-Sikh harmony."[9] The BJP did not support Operation Bluestar, and strongly protested against the violence towards Sikhs in Delhi that broke out in 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. During this bloody period, more than 3,000 Sikhs were massacred. Vajpayee was commended for protecting Sikhs against Indian National Congress supporters seeking to avenge the death of Gandhi.[citation needed] The BJP was left with only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections; however, the party had established itself in the mainstream of Indian politics, and soon began expanding its organization to attract young Indians throughout the country. During this period, Vajpayee remained center-stage as party President and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. The BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement, which was led by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the RSS, and which sought to build a temple dedicated to Rama at the site of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. Hindu activists believed the site was the birthplace of Rama, and thus qualified as one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism. Victory in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Maharashtra in March 1995, and a good performance in the elections to the Karnataka assembly in December 1994, propelled the BJP to greater political prominence. During a BJP conference in Mumbai in November 1995, BJP President L.K. Advani declared that Vajpayee would be the Prime Minister of India if the BJP won May 1996 parliamentary elections.

[edit] Prime Minister of IndiaMain article: Premiership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee [edit] First term: May 1996

Political energy and expansion made BJP the single-largest political party in the Lok Sabha elected in 1996. Asked to form the government, A.B. Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister, but the BJP failed to gather enough support from other parties to form a majority. Vajpayee resigned after just 13 days, when it became clear that he could not garner a majority.

[edit] Second term: 19981999

After the fall of two governments by the third-front between 1996 and 1998, the Parliament was dissolved and fresh elections were held. These elections again put the BJP at the head. This time, a cohesive bloc of political parties lined up with it to form the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and A.B. Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister.[10] The NDA proved its majority in parliament. Towards the end of 1998 however, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under J. Jayalalitha withdrew its support from the 13-month old government.[11] The government lost the ensuing vote of confidence motion by a single vote. As the Opposition was unable to come up with the numbers to form the new government, the country returned to elections with Vajpayee remaining the "caretaker Prime Minister".[edit] Nuclear tests Main article: Pokhran-II

In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan. The five tests shocked and surprised the world, especially considering that the government had been in power for only a month. Two weeks later, Pakistan responded with its own nuclear tests, making it the newest declared nation with nuclear weapons. While some nations, such as Russia and France, endorsed India's right to defensive nuclear power,[12] others including the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, and the European Union imposed sanctions on information, resources and technology to India or Pakistan. In spite of the intense international criticism and the steady decline in foreign investment and trade, the nuclear tests were popular domestically and Vajpayee's popularity as well as BJP's prestige rose in response. During his administration, Vajpayee introduced many important economic and infrastructural reforms domestically including, encouraging the private sector and foreign investments; reducing governmental waste; encouraging research and development and privatizing of some government owned corporations.[edit] The Lahore summit

In late 1998 and early 1999, Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999,Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other territorial/nuclear/strategic conflicts with Pakistan. The resultant Lahore Declaration espoused a commitment to dialogue, expanded trade relations and the goal of denuclearized South Asia, and mutual friendship. This eased the tension created by the 1998 nuclear tests, not only within the two nations, but also in South Asia and the rest of the world. The Vajpayee led government was faced with two crises in mid-1999. The AIADMK party had continually threatened to withdraw support from the coalition and national leaders repeatedly flew down from Delhi to Chennai to pacify the AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha. Finally, in May 1999, the AIADMK did pull the plug on the NDA, and the Vajpayee administration was reduced to a caretaker status pending fresh elections scheduled for October.

[edit] Kargil War Main article: Kargil War

More importantly and soon after, it was revealed that militants and non-uniformed Pakistani soldiers (many with official identifications and Pakistan Army's custom weaponry) had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured control of border hilltops, unmanned border posts and were spreading out fast. The incursion was centered around the town of Kargil, but also included the Batalik and Akhnoor sectors and include artillery exchanges at the Siachen Glacier. Indian army units were rushed into Kashmir in response. Operation Vijay (1999), launched in June 1999, saw the Indian military fighting thousands of militants and soldiers amidst heavy artillery shelling and while facing extremely cold weather, snow and treacherous terrain at the high altitude. Over 500 Indian soldiers were killed in the three-month long Kargil War, and it is estimated around 600-4,000 Pakistani militants and soldiers died as well. India pushed back the Pakistani militants and Northern Light Infantry soldiers. Almost 70% of the territory was recaptured by India. With news of Pakistan planning to launch a nuclear attack or a nuclear threat in the face of a lost war with India, Nawaz Sharif was summoned to the US by Bill Clinton.[12] Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Air Force jets, and the Indian Air Force acknowledged one loss to enemy missiles and attributed the other loss to engine flameout. The mutilation of the body of pilot Ajay Ahuja inflamed public opinion in India. After heavy losses and a recalcitrant general in Musharraf, and with both the United States and China refusing to condone the incursion or threaten India to stop its military operations, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked the remaining militants to stop and withdraw to positions along the LoC. The militants were not willing to accept orders from Nawaz Sharif while the NLI soldiers withdrew.[12] The militants were killed by the army or forced to withdraw in skirmishes which went beyond the announcement of withdrawal by Pakistan.[edit] Third term: 19992004

On 13 October 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time. The BJP-led NDA had won 303 seats in the 543 seat Lok Sabha in the aftermath of Kargil operations,[13] thereby securing a comfortable, stable majority. The coalition government that was formed lasted its full term of 5 years the only non-Congress government to do so.[edit] Indian Airlines hijack Main article: Indian Airlines Flight 814

A national crisis emerged in December 1999, when Indian Airlines flight (IC 814) en-route Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked by five terrorists and flown to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.[14] The hijackers made several demands including the release certain terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar, from prison. The government ultimately caved in and Jaswant Singh, the Indian External Affairs minister, flew with the terrorists to Afghanistan and exchanged them for the passengers. No explanation was given by the Indian government for the External Affairs minister personally escorting the terrorists.

A.B.Vajpayee meeting President Bush in the White House in 2001 [edit] National Highways Development Project, foreign policy and economic reform

Vajpayee oversaw his National Highway Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana begin construction, in which he took a personal interest. In March 2000, Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, paid a state visit to India. His was the first state visit to India by a US President in 22 years. President Clinton's visit to India was hailed as a significant milestone in the relations between the two countries. Since the visit followed barely two years after the Pokhran tests, and one year after the Kargil invasion and the subsequent coup in Pakistan, it was read to reflect a major shift in the postCold War U.S. foreign policy. The Indian Prime Minister and the U.S. President discussed strategic issues, but the chief achievement was a significant expansion in trade and economic ties. The Historic Vision Document on the future course of relations between the two countries was signed by Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Clinton during the visit. Domestically, the BJP-led government was under constant pressure from its ideological mentor, the RSS, and the hard-line VHP to enact the Hindutva agenda. But owing to its dependence on coalition support, it was impossible for the BJP to push items like building the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya, repealing Article 370 which gave a special status to the state of Kashmir, or enacting a uniform civil code applicable to adherents of all religions. The BJP was however accused of saffron-ising (saffron is the color of the flag of the RSS, symbol of the Hindu nationalism movement) the official state education curriculum and apparatus. Home Minister L.K. Advani and HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi were indicted in the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition case for inciting the mob of activists. The RSS also routinely criticized the government for free-market policies which introduced foreign goods and competition at the expense of home industries and products. Vajpayee's administration earned the ire of many unionized workers groups and government workers for their aggressive campaign to privatize government owned corporations. Vajpayee promoted pro-business, free market reforms to reinvigorate India's economic transformation and expansion that were started by former PM Narasimha Rao but stalled after 1996 due to unstable governments and the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Increased competitiveness, extra funding and support for the information technology and high-tech industries, improvements in infrastructure, deregulation of trade, investments and corporate laws - all increased foreign capital investment and set in motion an economic expansion.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Russia's then president Vladimir Putin.

These couple of years of reform however were accompanied by infighting in the administration and confusion regarding the direction of government. Cabinet portfolios were created and shuffled every six months apparently to pacify restless coalition partners.[citation needed] Vajpayee's weakening health was also a subject of public interest, and he underwent a major knee-replacement surgery at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai to relieve great pressure on his legs. In March 2001, the Tehelka group released incriminating videos of the BJP President Bangaru Laxman, senior army officers and NDA members accepting bribes from journalists posing as agents and businessmen. While the scandals were not linked to Vajpayee personally, the Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to resign following this Barak Missile Deal Scandal, another scandal involving the botched supplies of coffins for the soldiers killed in Kargil, and the finding of an inquiry commission that the Government could have prevented the Kargil invasion. These developments as well as an ambiguous response of the economy to the reforms, reduced the Vajpayee administration's popularity and undermined its future. Vajpayee again broke the ice in the Indo-Pak relations by inviting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Delhi and Agra for a joint summit and peace talks. His second-major attempt to move beyond the stalemate tensions involved inviting the man who had planned the Kargil invasions, but accepting him as the President of Pakistan, Vajpayee chose to move forward. But after three days of much fanfare, which included Musharraf visiting his birthplace in Delhi, the summit failed to achieve a breakthrough as President Musharraf declined to leave aside the issue of Kashmir. In 2001, the Vajpayee government launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which aimed at improving the quality of education in primary and secondary schools.[edit] 2001 attack on Parliament Main article: 2001 Indian Parliament attack Main article: 20012002 IndiaPakistan standoff

On 13 December 2001, a group of masked, armed men with fake IDs stormed the Parliament building in Delhi. The terrorists managed to kill several security guards, but the building was sealed off swiftly and security forces cornered and killed the men, who were later proven to be Pakistan nationals. Coming just three months after the September 11 attacks upon the

United States, this fresh escalation instantly enraged the nation. Although the Government of Pakistan officially condemned the attack, Indian intelligence reports pointed the finger at a conspiracy rooted in Pakistan. Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered a mobilization of India's military forces, and as many as 500,000 servicemen amassed along the international boundary bordering Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kashmir. Pakistan responded with the same. Vicious terrorist attacks and an aggressive anti-terrorist campaign froze day-to-day life in Kashmir, and foreigners flocked out of both India and Pakistan, fearing a possible war and nuclear exchange. For as long as two years, both nations remained perilously close to a terrible war. The Vajpayee administrations passed the Prevention of Terrorist Act against vigorous opposition of non-NDA parties. Human rights groups have condemned the act which gives wide authority to the government to crack down and hold anybody. Its repeal was advocated by human rights organisations.[15] But the biggest political disaster hit between December 2001 and March 2002: the VHP held the Government hostage in a major standoff in Ayodhya over the Ram Mandir. At the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri mosque, the VHP wanted to perform a shila daan, or a ceremony laying the foundation stone of the cherished temple at the disputed site. Tens of thousands of VHP activists amassed and threatened to overrun the site and forcibly build the temple. A grave threat of not only communal violence, but an outright breakdown of law and order owing to the defiance of the government by a religious organization hung over the nation.[8][edit] Remainder of term

In late 2002 and 2003 the government pushed economic reforms, and the country's GDP growth accelerated at record levels, exceeding 67%. Increasing foreign investment, modernization of public and industrial infrastructure, the creation of jobs, a rising high-tech and IT industry and urban modernization and expansion improved the nation's national image. Good crop harvests and strong industrial expansion also helped the economy. The Government reformed the tax system, increased the pace of reforms and pro-business initiatives, major irrigation and housing schemes and so on. The political energies of the BJP shifted to the rising urban middle-class and young people, who were positive and enthusiastic about the major economic expansion and future of the country.he faced stiff opposition from other equally strong origination within Sangh Parivar such as Bharatiya Majadur Sangh ,Bharatiya Kisan Sangh .however Vajpayee continued with aggressive economic reform policy. In August 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee announced before Parliament his "absolute last" effort to achieve peace with Pakistan. Although the diplomatic process never truly setoff immediately, visits were exchanged by high-level officials and the military stand-off ended. The Pakistani President and Pakistani politicians, civil and religious leaders hailed this initiative as did the leaders of America, Europe and much of the world. In July 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee, visited China, and met with various Chinese leaders. He recognized Tibet, as a part of China, which was reacted to positively, by the Chinese leadership, who the following year, recognized Sikkim, as a part of India. Sino-Indian Relations, improved greatly, in the following year. In NovemberDecember 2003, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won three major state elections, fought mainly on development issues, without ideological campaigns. A major public relations campaign was launched to reach out to Muslims and stop the 2002 controversies from haunting the party's future. But the attention of the media and of millions now moved from Vajpayee to his more possible successor, L.K.

Advani, although the question was never directly raised or contested in any way. Vajpayee's age, failing health and diminished physical and mental vigor were obvious factors in such speculations. Advani assumed greater responsibilities in the party, and although no perceivable conflict has been known to arise between the longtime friends and political colleagues, several embarrassing statements were made. Once Vajpayee said "Advani would lead the BJP in the elections," prompting Advani to clarify that he would merely lead the election campaign, not the party. And then the BJP President Venkaiah Naidu used mythological references to depict Vajpayee as a Vikas Purush, (Man of Progress), comparing him to Bhishma Pitamah of the Mahabharata epic, a man respected by all political outfits and hundreds of millions of people. As the BJP prepared for general elections in 2004, Vajpayee was still the choice of the BJP, and crucially of the wider NDA, for the Prime Minister's job.

[edit] 2004 general electionThe National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was widely expected to retain power after the 2004 general election. The parliament had been dissolved before the completion of term to capitalize on the perceived 'feel-good factor' and BJP's recent successes in Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The BJP hoped to capitalise on the slogan "India Shining" and released many ads touting the economic growth of the nation. However, the coalition sidestepped controversial and ideological questions in favour of bread-and-butter economic issues during the campaign and subsequently lost almost half its seats, with several prominent cabinet ministers being defeated. The Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi became the single largest party and, along with many minor parties, formed the United Progressive Alliance. With the conditional support of the leftist parties from the outside, the UPA formed a government under Dr Manmohan Singh. On July 4, 2004 Vajpayee shifted to his new residence 6-A Krishna Menon Marg in New Delhi from 7 Race Course Road.[16] Vajpayee attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, despite his party's decision to boycott it. Vajpayee was criticized for sacrificing core issues like Hindutva and the Ram Temple to please Muslim voters (the BJP lost the Muslim vote by a heavy margin). Vajpayee expressed his anger and frustration at being blamed and at a high-level party meeting, he decided to give up the position of the Leader of the Opposition to Lal Krishna Advani. However, he retained his post as Chairman of the NDA.

[edit] Later careerIn December 2005, Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics, declaring that he would not participate in the next general election. At a rally in the western city of Mumbai, Vajpayee said "I will not participate in any electoral politics. There are many other leaders to take forward the work which I and other senior leaders have been doing. In a now famous statement at the BJP's silver Jubilee rally at Mumbai's historic Shivaji Park, Vajpayee announced that "from now onwards, Lal Krishna Advani and Pramod Mahajan will be the Ram-Laxman (the two godly brothers much revered and worshipped by Hindus) of the BJP."[17]

Vajpayee was referred to as The Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Politics by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his speech in the Rajya Sabha.[18] Vajpayee was hospitalized at AIIMS for chest infection and fever and on 6 February 2009 he was put on ventilator as his conditioned worsened. It may be noted that at 84, he does not have diabetes or high blood pressure and he is on one kidney for the past 25 years.Vajpayee underwent several knee replacement surgeries during the 90's.[19] Unable to participate in the campaign for the 2009 general election due to his health, he wrote a letter urging voters in his Lucknow constituency to back BJP candidate Lalji Tandon. Finally Lalji Tandon was able to retain the Lucknow seat of Vajpayee even though NDA suffered electoral reverses in that state by just managing to win 15 of the total 80 seats. The tall apolitical image of Vajpayee was said to be the main reason behind Lalji's success in Lucknow even though BJP's position was poor in Uttar Pradesh.[20]

[edit] VajpayeeAdvani duoThrough the 90s and the first few years of the 21st century, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani combination steered the BJP to heights it had never before witnessed. Their political relationship provided stability, continuity, experience and authority to a party that was beginning even then, to severely lack a solid second-rung. As Advani himself acknowledged, rarely do two political leaders share such a bond, a working relationship that allows them both to thrive and grow without disturbing the fine balance of that bond. Vajpayee, the poet-Prime Minister and Advani as his able and trusted lieutenant, brought depth and gravity to the BJP leadership. It still is, and will be in many ways, the gold standard to which the BJP will hold itself for many years to come.

[edit] Awards

1992, Padma Vibhushan[21] 1993, D.Lit from Kanpur University[22] 1994, Lokmanya Tilak Award[22] 1994, Best Parliamentarian Award 1994, Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant Award[21]

[edit] Works[edit] Social and political

Nayi chunauti, naya avasara (Hindi Edition). (2002). ISBN 978-8170165019. India's Perspectives on ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Region. (2003). ISBN 978-9812301727. NEW DIMENSIONS OF INDIA'S FOREIGN POLICY. (1979). Decisive days. (1999). When will atrocities on Harijans stop?: A.B. Vajpayee's speech in Rajya Sabha. (1988). Heal the wounds: Vajpayee's appeal on Assam tragedy to the parliament. (1983). National integration. (1961). Sakti se santi. (1999). Rajaniti ki rapatili rahem. (1997). Vicara-bindu (Hindi Edition). (2000). ISBN 978-8170164753.

Bindu-bindu vicara. (1997). Kucha lekha, kucha bhashana. (1996). Back to square one. (1998). Dynamics of an open society. (1977). Na dainyam na palayanam (Hindi Edition). (1998). Bindu-bindu vicara (Hindi Edition). (1997). Kucha lekha, kucha bhashana (Hindi Edition). (1996). Sekyularavada: Bharatiya parikalpana (Da. Rajendra Prasada Smaraka vyakhyanamala). (1996).

[edit] Autobiography

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, meri samsadiya yatra (Hindi Edition). (1999). ISBN 978-8173152818. Four decades in parliament. (1996). Atala Bihari Vajpayee, samsada mem tina dasaka. (1992). Pradhanamantri Atala Bihari Vajapeyi, chune hue bhashana. (2000). Values, vision & verses of Vajpayee: India's man of destiny. (2001). India's foreign policy: New dimensions. (1977). Assam problem: Repression no solution. (1981). Suvasita pushpa: Atala Bihari Vajapeyi ke sreshtatama bhashana. (1997).

[edit] Poetry

Twenty-One Poems. (2003). ISBN 978-0670049172. Kya khoya kya paya: Atala Vihari Vajapeyi, vyaktitva aura kavitaem (Hindi Edition). (1999). ISBN 978-8170283355. Meri ikyavana kavitaem. (1995). Meri ikyavana kavitaem (Hindi Edition). (1995). Sreshtha kabita. (1997). Nayi Disha - an album with Jagjit Singh (1999) Samvedna - an album with Jagjit Singh (2002)

[edit] Speeches

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, selected speeches. (2000). ISBN 978-8123008349. President's addresses, 1980-1986. (2000). Presidential address. (1986). Presidential address: Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha session, Bhagalpur (Bihar), 5 6 & 7 May 1972. (1972). Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pokhran Test.