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Atal’s paternal village prays for his health

Residents of Bateshwar village, located around 70km from Agra, are living in anxiety. Reports of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ill health have worried the villagers for whom the former Prime Minister continues to be a beloved figure.

lucknow Updated: Jun 13, 2018 13:24 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Paternal village,Bateshwar village,Atal Bihari Vajpayee
A hawan being performed for the former PM’s long life at a temple near Atal chowk in Agra.(HT Photo)

Residents of Bateshwar village, located around 70km from Agra, are living in anxiety. Reports of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ill health have worried the villagers for whom the former Prime Minister continues to be a beloved figure. Remains of Atal’s house still stand in his paternal village and locals love sharing memories of their association with him.

“I came to know about Atalji’s deteriorating health from television on Monday. We (the villagers) are anxious to know about his well being and are praying for him,” said 73-year-old senior lawyer Devendra Vajpayee, a resident of Bateshwar, adding that he last met the former PM in 2009.

“His smiling face always comes to my mind. Always full of life, he used to turn into one among us whenever he visited Bateshwar, where he spent his early years before shifting to Gwalior, as his father was posted there,” said Vajpayee.

File photo of Atal Bihari Vajpayee climbing down a hillock in Bateshwar village, Agra. (HT)

Recollecting his visit to Delhi about four decades ago, Vajpayee said that he stayed with Atal at the time. “He asked me to join him for a movie. I agreed and asked Atalji if I could drive the Vespa scooter he had. We went to Golcha cinema to watch Guru Dutt’s ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’. Fond of sweets and an avid cook, Atalji had prepared ‘Gajar halwa’ that he had brought along to the cinema hall. I remember he repeatedly offered the halwa to me as we watched the movie,” shared Vajpayee.

“His smiling face always comes to my mind. Always full of life, he used to turn into one among us whenever he visited Bateshwar, where he spent his early years before shifting to Gwalior, as his father was posted there.” --Devendra Vajpayee, lawyer

The lawyer also recalled how Atal was appreciated for his down to earth personality. “He never carried any ego, despite being on constant rise in the national political scene. During the sixties, when he was an MP, he visited Bateshwar. One day, I found him standing at our house carrying a ‘kalsa’ (aluminium pot) for drawing water from the well. Respecting him as my elder, I drew water for him. Later, he once came to meet my parents in Udaipur and asked my mother: ‘humein pehchana’ (did you recognise me?) with a smile on his face.” 

Vajpayee also shared how the veteran leader made it a point to visit Bateshwar for family functions and loved taking a dip in Yamuna at the Gopaleshwar ghat.

Joining many across the country who are praying for the beloved former Prime Minister’s long life, people of Taj city also performed a ‘hawan’ on Tuesday. A ceremony was organised at Jiteshwar Mahadev Mandir on Atal Chowk near Agra Cantonment railway station. Govind Chahar, vice president of Jiteshwar Mahadev Mandir committee, said, “This ‘yagya’ has been held to pray for the health and long life of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who lives in the hearts of the people of Agra and crores across the world.”

First Published: Jun 13, 2018 13:24 IST