Farewell, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the PM Who Brought Poetry to Indian Politics

People

Farewell, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the PM Who Brought Poetry to Indian Politics

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

W

hen I hear the words Prime Minister, in my mind I picture Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He certainly looked the part, with his wardrobe of Nehru jackets and kurtas projecting a distinguished statesman’s air, emphasised by his steely grey backswept hair and bristling eyebrows. It’s also partly because he held the highest office during my growing-up years, especially his second and third terms from 1998 to 2004, a time I grew more conscious of the world around me. With his passing at AIIMS, we bid farewell to a leader who, more than anyone who followed him, embodied what the PM’s post stood for.

What set Vajpayee apart from his successors in the BJP was his willingness to engage in bipartisan politics. He was one of the few BJP leaders willing to acknowledge the unfortunate nature of the Babri Masjid demolition and came on record to admit as much. In today’s India, where it takes the Prime Minister and state Chief Ministers days or even weeks to condemn incidents of lynching, his actions seem almost revolutionary.

READ MORE

Comments