NEW DELHI: As it paid tributes to the statesman that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was, the Opposition could not help but compare the former prime minister with Narendra Modi and remembered his accommodative behaviour and the good relations he shared across party lines. Even the BJP’s allies feel that the NDA under Modi is not what it used to be under Vajpayee. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has praised Vajpayee both at the public and party platforms in the past. According to many Congress leaders, Sonia mentioned about him and his accommodative nature at party meetings on several occasions while discussing the “arrogance of the present regime”.
She had publically stated earlier this year that “Vajpayee had great respect for parliamentary procedure”, while taking a subtle dig at the government. “The present situation is such that there is no accommodative spirit. It is our right, it is the right of Opposition. We worked very well when Prime Minister Vajpayee was there.” Leaders across party lines hailed the former PM’s willingness to engage with Opposition leaders, his decent behaviour and his keenness on taking everyone on board as hallmarks of a true leader. In sharp contrast, Modi is often criticised by leaders of various parties for failing to reach out to the Opposition on key issues that demand broad consensus.
“Though we opposed each other vehemently on political and ideological issues, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji’s good nature, decency and willingness to engage with all political leaders always made him stand out,” tweeted CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was a Union minister in NDA-I, remembered that Vajpayee visited her mother Gayatri Devi in Kolkatta in the year 2000. “He was a different kind of a man, very kind-hearted and used to respect us a lot. The kind of human being Atalji was, it is rare to find now. His style of working was also very different and the kind of politics the BJP engages in today is very different. We’ve had relations above party lines with Atalji. We had an opportunity to work with him in the government. Atalji was an exceptional gentleman, a statesman-like figure,” said Banerjee, who had visited him in AIIMS when she was in Delhi in July-end.
NDA’s former ally Telugu Desam Party, which parted ways with the BJP a few months ago and accused the government of betrayal, feels Vajpayee respected alliance dharna. “This was not the attitude with the earlier leadership of the BJP. We are seeing this only now,” Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu had said after one of his visits to Delhi to pitch for special category status for the state.
MP: BJP, Cong cancel all poll programmes
Bhopal: In 1984, Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia defeated Vajpayee from Gwalior Lok Sabha seat. More than three decades later Scindia’s son and former union minister Jyotiraditya, who heads the opposition party’s state election campaign committee in MP, cancelled his tour to Guna and flew to New Delhi. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also stopped his ongoing statewide Jan Ashirwad Yatra and rushed to Delhi.