China, Pak, Russia, nuclear tests: Jaishankar remembers Vajpayee legacy. Watch

By, New Delhi
Jan 24, 2023 10:11 AM IST

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was remembered for his tackling of key national challenges.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday remembered the legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The BJP veteran served the country as prime minister for three terms - the first time in 1996 for a 13-day long term, then from 1998 to 1999 for 13 months, and then between 1999 and 2004 for a full term. In his address at the the 'Third Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture', Jaishankar recalled Vajpayee's balancing act while managing international relations. He also highlighted the BJP veteran's nuanced worldview.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as prime minister thrice , (HT PHOTO)
Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as prime minister thrice , (HT PHOTO)

"I have a particular reason to remember him as when I joined the foreign service, he was the first foreign minister I had the privilege of meeting. When you look back at his contributions as a Prime Minister, as a parliamentarian, there are several aspects that come in mind. One is what we today call as cultural rebalancing. Also, what is important to note is how nuanced his understanding was as far the contemporary world is concerned," Jaishankar said at the event in Delhi. "Realism characterised his decisions... we saw it how he transformed the relations with the United States. Also, at a time when international relations were undergoing a shift, there was a steadiness in the India-Russia relations during his tenure."

On China, Vajpayee followed the "mutual respect" principles, the Foreign Minister, further highlighting, stressed: "In our neighbourhood, Prime Minister Vajpayee saw a lot of opportunities for cooperation but was never impervious to the challenges of terrorism."

"When you look at trying to reach a modus vivendi (mode of living) with China, the fundamental basis for that, that it has to be on the basis of mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, mutual interest, which we articulate today, a lot of it was visible during Vajpayee's visit to China," Jaishankar underlined.

The minister also underlined Vajpayee's handling of situation following the nuclear tests in 1998. "It is the post-test diplomacy which anyone in the field of diplomacy should look at and draw lessons from. Our relationship with Japan was affected due to the nuclear test but we always drew from the prime minister the confidence that we would find a way to settle it down,"

Vajpayee, the co-founder of the BJP, drew respect from across party lines for his maturity on handling of key national issues.

(With PTI inputs)

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