December 25, marks the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Known for his great oratory skills, Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term in the office.
Despite more than a dozen unruly and demanding coalition partners, Vajpayee was not only able to provide a stable government but also took several steps which turned out to be nothing less than revolutionary. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee returned to the saddle heading a coalition NDA government the first thing he did was to order nuclear tests at Pokhran on May 11 and 13, 1998, a delicate task which Indian scientists accomplished with precision, putting India in the elite global nuclear club.
Apart from being a politician par excellence, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was an exceptional poet as well. An inspiration to many new age poets, Vajpayee, in many of his interviews had said, “I might become an ex-prime minister one day. But I shall never become ex-poet,” he used to say. Oratory was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s asset. But his real strength was his silence. He used silence more powerfully than his words. Words he used to score political points, and silence, to build political consensus. His silence or his efforts at consensus-building didn’t make him weak. Born in Gwalior on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee had immense affection for his native language, Hindi, and became the first person to deliver a speech in the language at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in 1977, as India’s external affairs minister. Atal Bihari Vajpayee may not be with us but his teachings continue to guide the nation.