Atal Bihari Vajpayee was an Indian politician who served as the Prime Minister of
India on three occasions, first for a brief period in 1996, and then for two full terms
from 1998 to 2004. He was a prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
and played a key role in shaping India's political landscape in the late 20th century.
Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, Vajpayee was a gifted
orator and a prolific writer. He graduated from Victoria College in Gwalior and later
obtained a post-graduate degree in political science from DAV College in Kanpur. In
his early years, Vajpayee was associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
(RSS), a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization, and was one of the founding
members of the BJP in 1980.
Vajpayee's political career spanned over five decades, during which he held several
important positions in the Indian government. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha,
the lower house of the Indian Parliament, in 1957 and went on to serve as a member
of parliament for over four decades. In 1977, he was appointed The Ministery of
External Affairs in the Janata Party government led by Morarji Desai.
In 1996, Vajpayee became the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full
term in office. However, his government was short-lived as it lost a vote of
confidence in the Lok Sabha after just 13 days. In 1998, Vajpayee led the BJP to a
resounding victory in the general elections and became the Prime Minister for the
second time. He was re-elected to the office in 1999, and his government completed
a full term in 2004.
As Prime Minister, Vajpayee pursued a policy of economic liberalization and
globalization, and his government introduced several key economic reforms,
including the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the reduction of trade
barriers. He also initiated several major infrastructure projects, such as the Golden
Quadrilateral highway network, which linked the four major metropolitan cities of
Vajpayee was known for his conciliatory approach to foreign policy and played a key
role in improving India's relations with the United States, China, and Pakistan. In
1999, he made a historic bus journey to Pakistan, where he met with then-Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif and signed the Lahore Declaration, which aimed to normalize
relations between the two countries.
Vajpayee was also a poet and a writer, and he published several collections of his
poems and essays. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-
highest civilian award, in 1992, and the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian
award, in 2015.
Vajpayee's health began to decline in the mid-2000s, and he withdrew from public
life in 2005. He passed away on August 16, 2018, at the age of 93. He was mourned
by people from all walks of life, and his passing was seen as the end of an era in
Indian politics. Today, Vajpayee is remembered as one of India's greatest
statesmen, a visionary leader, and a true son of the soil.
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