NEW DELHI: When the BJP-led Government and party MPs celebrate Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday as good governance day, they would be remembering the man who was headed the saffron party-led alliance’s maiden stint at the Centre.
Vajpayee’s political charisma had helped bring together 26 political parties in the NDA coalition, which he led between 1998-2004. During his six-year-long tenure, Vajpayee has been credited with starting several infrastructure projects like the development of highways, particularly the Golden Quadrilateral Project that linked all the four metros.
Considered a moderate, Vajpayee was able to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan.And he famously travelled on the bus to Lahore, the first road link between the two acrimonious neighbours.
Vajpayee’s diplomatic breakthrough was hailed as the dawn of a new era in India-Pakistan relations. But the covert operation by the Pak Army in Kargil that followed soon adversely impacted the bilateral ties.
Vajpayee first became Prime Minister in 1996 after four decades in the Opposition. His first tenure as Prime Minister lasted only 13 days due to lack of numbers. His second stint in power from 1998, which lasted 13 months, ended after his government collapsed when the AIADMK withdrew support from the coalition. He was re-elected in 1999 as the head of a more stable coalition that lasted its full term.
Born on Dec 25, 1924 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, to Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Krishna Devi, Vajpayee first became a MP in 1957. He worked as an RSS pracharak. A litterateur, the nonagenarian has published anthologies of poems.