He is called the man of the masses, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who served as the Prime Minister of India for three terms, is undoubtedly a man of remarkable stature. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s date of birth is 25th December 1924. He had a commendable life that spanned over a period of over nine decades. In this Atal Bihari Vajpayee biography, we will look into some of his greatest achievements, early life, career and his role in the upliftment of the nation and more.
Childhood and Early Life
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s place of birth was Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He was born to Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Krishna Devi in a Hindu Brahmin family. After finishing his schooling from Saraswati Shisu Mandir and Anglo-Vernacular Middle (AVM) School in Barnagar, Ujjain, Atal went on to attend Gwalior's Victoria College where he completed his BA in English, Sanskrit and Hindi. He then pursued and completed his postgraduate studies in Political Science from DAV College in Kanpur. He then went to pursue law but then gave it up owing to the partition riots of 1947.
Atal was an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, initially joining as a volunteer or Swayamseval to rising to the ranks of a ‘vistarak’ (a probationary full-time worker). He worked for several newspapers - Panchjanya (a weekly Hindi), Rashtra Dharma (a monthly Hindi), and the Swadesh and Veer Arjun (dailies) as a vistarak in Uttar Pradesh.
Vajpayee’s first stint with national politics started as early as 1942, during the time of the Quit India Movement, which eventually brought an end to the British’s colonial rule in India. He had embarked upon the career of being a journalist but was unable to pursue it further as he joined the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Sangh, which ultimately went on to shape the present-day Bharatiya Janata Party.
He was initially appointed as the national secretary of the party and was made in charge of the northern region, which was based in Delhi. Following the demise of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal was made the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Sangh and became its president in the year 1968. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of eloquent oratorical skills, which he utilised for brilliantly defending the Sangh’s policies.
In terms of his national political career, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament) nine times and twice to the Rajya Sabha (or the upper house of the Parliament). He is thus regarded as a veteran Parliamentarian.
History as Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s history as the Prime Minister of India is also quite remarkable. He served as the country’s Prime Minister for three terms. In the year 1996, he was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of India. However, when the Bharatiya Janata Party failed to form a majority in the Lok Sabha, Vajpayee resigned just after a period of 16 days as it became evident that he did not have the support necessary to form a government.
His second term as a Prime Minister began after the 1998 general elections that resulted in the formation of the National Democratic Alliance. This Atal Bihari Vajpayee led government lasted for a total of 13 months.
The third and final term of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s lasted for the full 5-year period starting from 1999 to 2004. Since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the only candidate to have become Prime Minister of India with 2 successive mandates.
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made a number of remarkable contributions to the development of the country. He served not only as the Prime Minister of India but also as it Foreign Minister and Chairperson of various important Standing Committees of Parliament. He had also been an active Leader of the Opposition. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has thus played a significant role in shaping up domestic and foreign policies of independent India.
He was also a true advocate of social equality and an ardent champion of empowerment for women. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee believed in an India that is anchored in 5000 years of civilisational history but as modernising, renewing and rejuvenating itself to meet the challenges that lay ahead in the years to come.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was mainly considered a pragmatist but when criticised for testing nuclear weapons in the year 1998, he assumed a non-deterring defiant posture. He also played a key role in making dedicated efforts to resolve the long running feud between Pakistan and India over the region of Kashmir. Given his inspiring leadership, India was able to achieve steady growth in the economy and soon paved the way for the nation to become a leader in the information technology sector.
In spite of its numerous achievements, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led government was not entirely lacking in drawbacks. The economically less viable section of the Indian society often felt left out in the path towards economic growth. The Vajpayee led government was also heavily criticised for its cumbersome response to the Gujarat riots that occurred in 2002. Starting the year 2000 his government also started the divestment of public funds from a number of industries that were run by the state. In the 2004 Parliamentary elections, the Vajpayee led coalition was defeated and he announced retirement from active politics in December 2005.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee never got married and remained a bachelor his entire life. He, instead, adopted the daughter of his long time friend, Rajkumari Kaul and Prof B. N. Kaul. His adoptive daughter was Namita Bhattacharya and the family lived with him. He breathed his last on 16th August 2018.
Besides political aspirations, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also a noted poet. He wrote poems in Hindi. Among his renowned works include, Kaidi Kaviraj Ki Kundalian, a collection of poems that he had composed during imprisonment at the time of 1975–77 emergency, and ‘Amar aag hai’.
Recognising his selfless dedication towards the country, which he calls his first and only love, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 2014. He devoted more than 50 years of his life in service to society and the nation. He was named as the ‘Best Parliamentarian’ in the year 1994.
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee not only proved himself to be an eminent national leader but was also an erudite politician and a devout social worker. His many skills made him a multi-faceted personality. His works echo his commitment to nationalism where he laid efforts to articulate the aspirations of the masses.