Talk like Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Some of the best speeches by the former PM

  • Vishakha Saxena, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 25, 2014 12:47 IST

The wry wit, sarcasm and passion in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's speeches left listeners spell-bound and rivals speechless. People remembered Vajpayee as a skilled poet and a master orator when it was announced on Wednesday that he had been awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Vajpayee was often commended for his ability to stump his critics, especially in Parliament, with a passionate speech. Perhaps, one of his most memorable Parliament address was from 1996 during the confidence vote of his 13-day-old BJP government.

In a first, a major political Parliament speech had the attention of the entire country as it was telecast live on Doordarshan. With the responsibility of winning the confidence of people, a poignant Vajpayee talked about everything - from his political struggle and his diligence towards his post to corruption and the need to 'save' India.

These last 5 minutes capture the essence of his entire speech:

Armed with expressions and heavy gesticulation, Vajpayee had the power to leave the House in splits.

"Acha tou acche Vajpayee ka aap kya karne ka iraada rakhte hain?"

And more than anything, Vajpayee knew just how to invoke passion and patriotism in people.

"Ye desh rehna chahiye, iss desh ka loktantra amar rehna chahiye"

As you'd see in the next video, his speeches were often in many shades of emotion. At one moment, his humour would make the Speaker of the House crack up and smile and minutes after, one would see fierce anger on Vajpayee's face.

Sitting in the Opposition during IK Gujral's government, people saw a Vajpayee angry over fodder scam, threatening to not give his speech if disruptions continued, leading to pin-drop silence.

Often, Vajpayee's speeches can remind one of the challenges India faces today.

Sample this next video where in an angry speech Vajpayee's voice booms, sitting in the Opposition, as he says "mujhe is sawal ka uttar chahiye", talking about corruption, adding that elections should not be fought with black money.

The former PM was a champion of Uniform Civil Code, a matter which is still debated in India today.

Many decisions during his tenure were criticised by the INC, but the uninhibited Vajpayee always hit back with a strong retort.

In one such instance, while addressing concerns about India's Pokhran II (Operation Shakti) nuclear tests, he said, "no decision under international pressure," - a stand he is still remembered by.

In another example, countering Sonia Gandhi's sharp attacks on BJP's governance, Vajpayee had a poignant response:

His speeches, though, weren't devoid of controversies. He has been accused of inciting violence in this speech from a day before Babri Masjid was demolished - an incident that triggered riots across the country, claiming hundreds of lives.

Not all of Vajpayee's speeches came in Parliament. His speech during the BJP Mumbai Adhiveshan on April 6, 1980 is still remembered by most BJP supporters, his sign-off still quoted during BJP campaigns.

"Samsya vyavastha ki hai"

Vajpayee was a clever speaker, skilled in both English and Hindi and the following videos of his speeches in United Nations, Lahore and the United States Congress stand proof of his capability to charm his audience forever.

UN, 1977

Lahore, 1999

US Congress, 2000

also read

Bharat Ratna for AB Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya
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