Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away after prolonged illness in New Delhi on Thursday, once facilitated former Nepalese Prime Minister BP Koirala’s journey to New York for treatment of throat cancer. Prof Deepak Malik, a close friend of Koirala, shared the story that Koirala (1914-1982) narrated to him when he met him in Delhi in the late 1977 or early 1978. “BP Koirala was the first Prime Minister of Nepal. He was a legendary leader. Koirala was lodged in jail because he was fighting for democracy. But he was released from jail in late seventies (late 1977 or early 1978) on a strong initiative by the then president of Janta Party Chandra Shekhar when Janta Party came into power in India in 1977,” he said. “Besides, there was an international appeal by many European heads of states, prime ministers and presidents as well as doctors as BP Koirala had cancer in his throat. The then Indian Prime Minister Morar Ji Desai, however, was not in favour of any kind of intervention with Nepal government to release BP Koirala. But the campaign was so massive that he was released,” Prof Malik recalled, adding that as president of the ruling party, Chandra Shekhar, and the then foreign minister Vajpayee supported the campaign for Koirala’s release. “And I met Koirala on the day he was leaving for New York for treatment. I went to his flat where his family was residing in Delhi as they had informed me that the BP will be leaving for New York at about 2pm. Since I had very close and long relationship with him, I thought it would be good if I could meet him before his departure,” Prof Malik added. “BP came very late that night. But then he had time to talk to me. He actually was coming back from a dinner hosted by the then foreign minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. BP told me that Vajpayee was in very nostalgic mood and he told, “Look here BP, I am occupying the same chair, which was adorned by Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru as we know that Pt Nehru was both prime minister and foreign minister of India.” Vajpayee told BP that he was a small man as compared to Pt Nehru but he was proud that he was occupying the same position,” Malik claimed. “Such was Vajpayee’s admiration for Pt Nehru and he confided in BP as he was also very close to Nehru,” he said. As per Malik, Vajpayee was a statesman in true sense that he suffered wrath of even RSS during the Babri Masjid demolition.