Though the legacy of octogenarian leader and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, including simplicity, wit and statesmanship will continue to be a guiding force for millions, the tangible assets he remained associated with, are dying a slow death in Gwalior.
His ancestral house in Kamal Singh Ka Bagh, Gorkhi School at Maharaj Bada, Victoria College and now Maharani Laxmibai College and the recreational sector at Gwalior Mela, which were close to his heart, have been losing their sheen.
Places like Gorkhi School and Victoria College, the alma-mater of the former Prime Minister, are also losing their charm because of neglect and poor maintenance. Over a century old Gorkhi building, a portion of which is occupied by district administration, is in a bad shape and has been declared unsafe for use.
In Vajpayee's hometown, there is hardly anything worthwhile dedicated to him except for an institute — Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information and Technology. Even renaming the institute in the name of Vajpayee had stirred a controversy because former Union minister Madhavrao Scindia was instrumental in setting up this institute here. Also, the historic MLB College building, which is an example of architectural beauty, has been vying for attention.
Gwalior Mela, which was close to Vajpayee’s heart, as the latter often made references to his visits to the mela and its rustic and cultural uniqueness, has now been replaced by pomp and show and has become a modern day fair.
Vajpayee's ancestral house where he lived with his three brothers and three sisters at Kamal Singh Ka Bagh at Shinde Ki Chhaoni in Lashkar locality, has almost been abandoned by family members and is being converted into a low-profile computer training/coaching centre.
Vajpayee’s childhood friend, who later became his relative, MR Misra (85), lives in a narrow lane across Vajpayee’s house. Talking to HT, Misra said, "Atal Ji is blessed with a versatile personality which includes his academics, political acumen and flamboyant approach. He was interested in poetry since childhood and began participating in cultural poetry programmes at an early age. Besides, he was a frontrunner in student union elections. He (Vajpayee) was so popular in his college that once the college principal visited his house to enquire after his health when he had fallen sick."
Misra further said, "Atal ji used to love playing hockey at Phoolbagh maidan which was close to our house and I helped him get the ball from the boundary. After college, Atal ji went to Kanpur for pursuing post graduation and getting a law degree. He came in contact with Shyama Prasad Mukherjee there who took him to Bengal. He also worked as a journalist in West Bengal, Lucknow and Delhi before joining mainstream politics," added Misra.