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Atal Bihari Vajpayee changed J-K narrative, says PM Modi

PM Modi also recalled Vajpayee’s contribution towards the ideology of the party, and said he never buckled under pressure.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2018 23:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at an all-party condolence meeting in New Delhi on  August 20.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at an all-party condolence meeting in New Delhi on August 20.(PTI Photo)
         

Atal Bihari Vajpayee never buckled under pressure, made India a nuclear power and changed the narrative when some countries were cornering India on the issue of Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in New Delhi on Monday.

“Due to Vajpayee ji, terrorism became an important issue on the world stage,” Modi said at an all party prayer meeting in the memory of the former prime minister who passed away on August 16.

Modi referred to May 1998 nuclear tests in Pokhran and said it was India could become a nuclear power because of Vajpayee’s efforts.

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.

Modi also recalled Vajpayee’s contribution towards the ideology of the party, and said he never buckled under pressure. Vajpayee, Modi said, never lost hope despite odds.

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.

Vajpayee died on August 16 at the age of 93 following 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.

BJP veteran LK Advani too recalled his long association with Vajpayee and said never never imagined that he would be speaking at such an event. “I owe a lot to him,” Advani said.

Congress veteran and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the distance seen between the ruling party and the Opposition today was not there earlier and the late BJP stalwart worked taking everyone along. Vajpayee had brought together leaders cutting across ideological divides even in his death which, Azad added, was something rare.

Azad recalled that as the parliamentary affairs minister during the PV Narasimha Rao-led government, he had to meet Vajpayee, then a key opposition leader, several times a day during Parliament’s sessions and they used to have tea and meals together.

“The distance we see today was not there then,” he said, apparently referring to the frosty relations between the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the opposition.

He mentioned leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Indira Gandhi and said Vajpayee would be remembered as one of the biggest leaders of his time who always worked for the country and its people.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi was expected to attend but could not as it was his father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary on Monday and sent Azad as his representative, the organisers said.

Satish Mishra (BSP), D Raja (CPI), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), Harivansh (JD-U) were among others present.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 23:25 IST

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