The demise of former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Vajpayee is not unexpected. He suffered a lot for the past nine years after he suffered stroke in 2009. His oratory skill is unprecedented. He was a charismatic leader capable of taking political parties of different hues on board in successfully running a coalition government. Vajpayee is remembered for speaking in Hindi in the UNSC. He was the first Prime Minister to deliver speech in Indian language. Later on former Prime Minister Narasihma Rao followed suit. Vajpayee’s dream of inter-linking of rivers could not be translated into action in his life time. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to complete the unstarted and unfinished agenda of Vajpayee.
GDP was at 5 per cent when Vajpayee took over as Prime Minister. It was 8 per cent when he relinquished the office. Voters cheated themselves by defeating the Vajpayee-led government in 2004. What followed later on is too well-known to all. Vajpayee was a statesman. A politician thinks of next election whereas a statesman thinks of next generation. This is proverbially true. Nuclear test in 1998 in Pokhran incurred the wrath of the US resulting in economic sanction on India. In response to a telephonic call from the US President to leave Kashmir to Pakistan since Pakistan may press nuclear button against India, Vajpayee has gone on record as saying, “no problem, India has already lost its 50 per cent of her territory and if Pakistan indulges in misadventure, it will not be on geographical map in the very next morning”. Political rivalry never induced Vajpayee to nurse personal animosity against others. Best example is, he saved Rahul Gandhi when he was caught in US with drugs in 2001. He was caught by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for holding USD 1.60 lakh and white powder. Vajpayee positively responded to the request of Sonia Gandhi prompting the former to ring up to the then President Genorge Bush to release Rahul Gandhi. Vajpayee’s phone call yielded result and Rahul Gandh was released. It has been reported if Rahul Gandhi had been convicted in the case, he would have to undergo 120 years of jail term. Because, any one could carry USD 10,000. Anything carried in excess of it would have attracted jail-term of 8 years for every USD 10,000 carried extra. Rahul Gandhi was carrying 15 times excess USD. In that case he would have to undergo jail-sentence for 120 years. This is the classic example of Vajpayee not mixing political and personal issues. Vajpayee was persona grata despite his party’s debacle in 2004. No Muslim hates Vajpayee and no Hindu hates A.P.J Abdul Kalam. Abdul Kalam as President of India was the gift of Vajpayee.
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