Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described former PM and mentor Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a person who neither buckled under pressure nor lost hope despite the odds.
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Addressing a prayer meeting in memory of the former prime minister, who died here last week, Modi said it was Vajpayee who changed the narrative when some countries were cornering India on the Kashmir issue. “Due to Vajpayee Ji, terrorism became an important issue on the world stage,” he said.
No party was willing to support Vajpayee when he formed the government for 13 days, Modi said, referring to the short-lived NDA government in 1996. “The government fell. He did not lose hope and remained committed to serving the people,” he told the gathering and added that Vajpayee showed the way when it came to coalition politics.
When the Vajpayee government created the three states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, the process was peaceful and without bitterness, the prime minister said. Referring to the May 1998 nuclear tests, Modi said Vajpayee’s efforts ensured that India became a nuclear power.
He attributed the tests to the brilliance of India’s scientists. Two days later, India tested again and showed what a strong political leadership can do, the prime minister said. “He never buckled under pressure. He was Atal after all,” he said, adding that the former prime minister never compromised on his ideology. He distinguished himself as a parliamentarian and was proud of parliamentary traditions, Modi said.
Vajpayee died on August 16 at the age of 93 following a prolonged illness. He first became prime minister in 1996 for 13 days, then in 1998 for 13 months when the National Democratic Alliance again came to power and finally in 1999. He served as prime minister for a full term before being voted out in 2004.
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This first appeared in PTI