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Atal never brought politics, ego to his paternal village

He was very approachable, even political opponents held him in high esteem, recalls Ram Singh Azad of Bateshwar.

lucknow Updated: Aug 18, 2018 13:57 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Atal Bihari Vajpayee,BJP,Ex Prime Minister
“Bharat Ratna Vajpayeeji had represented the nation in the biggest ‘panchayat’ of the world.”(HT File)

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was very simple and approachable. Despite being a leader, he never brought politics and ego to his paternal village Bateshwar, recalls Ram Singh Azad, 58, who was Vajpayee’s swimming companion at the ghats of Yamuna here.

“Atalji was very friendly to me despite age and ideological differences. Even political opponents held him in high esteem,” claimed Azad.

Azad had been a Congressman in early years and later switched to the Samajwadi Party, but he always admired Vajpayee for never bringing politics to his paternal village.

“I was only 15 years when Atalji came to Bateshwar in the seventies. Despite being the leader of opposition in Parliament, he was so simple and approachable. We respected him as our elder. He could have spent more time in Bateshwar but his father had a job in the education department in Gwalior. Still, Atalji maintained his relationship with Bateshwar,” said Azad who was shocked to hear about the former PM’s demise.

“My grandfather was Atalji’s companion during the freedom struggle. In 1978, I requested him to have a photograph clicked with us. We were hesitating as he was leader of opposition, but despite being in bathing attire, he got ready for the photograph,” recalled Azad.

“I was a Congressman but got closer to the Samajwadi Party and was thus kept away from Vajpayeeji when he came to Bateshwar in 1999 as Prime Minister to address a rally. But that did not affect my admiration for the leader whose demise created a vacuum in the political world,” stated Azad with tears in his eyes.

“Bharat Ratna Vajpayeeji had represented the nation in the biggest ‘panchayat’ of the world (read UNO). He never gave undue favours to Bateshwar but we are proud to be fellow villagers of such a great soul,” asserted Azad.

HE RELISHED SAMOSAS
Residents of the Taj city on Friday remained glued to television to see the last rites of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who breathed his last on Thursday. Many gathered at various locations and offered floral tributes to the departed leader. “Atalji used to ask about shops selling his favourite dishes and would not hesitate in having ‘parantha’ from Rambabu Parantha Bhandar or ‘samosa’ from Deviram halwai or ‘kachori’ from Rama Sweets in Agra,” said Purshottam Khandelwal, state vice president of the BJP. In Bateshwar, the villagers gathered at the Shiva Temple on Yamuna bank to condole his death. “We are still to come to terms with this sad news,” said Ram Prasad, a villager.

MLA GETS HEAD SHAVED
Five –time MLA from Agra North Jagan Prasad Garg had his head shaved while attending the funeral of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Friday. This was as a mark of respect on the demise of a ‘fatherly’ figure, said the MLA who now plans to serve food to 25 Brahmins on August 29, the thirteenth day after the funeral of the departed leader. ‘Atalji was a fatherly figure to me and ensured my first ticket for assembly election in 1998 from Agra East (now Agra North) as BJP candidate. He had showered his blessing on me for the past 25 years and on his death, I felt as if I had lost my father. So I decided to get my head shaved as befits a son, “he told HT.

ASCETIC SHUNS FOOD AFTER HEARING ABOUT ATAL
Agra ‘Sant’ Nepal Dass, 80, from Bateshwar refuses to eat ever since he came to know about former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death. Nepal Dass belongs to Bateshwar, the paternal village of Vajpayee in Agra district. He claimed he had a shop in Delhi but returned to Bateshwar after renouncing the world and embracing ‘sanyas’. He heard about Atal’s on Thursday and is abstaining from food since then.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 13:57 IST