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Vajpayee’s demise brings to life poignant memories of his Pune visits

One such anecdote related to the time in the late 1960s when he surprised everyone by arriving unannounced at Anand Mangal Karyalaya, a marriage hall, in front of Nehru stadium at Swargate.

pune Updated: Aug 18, 2018 15:22 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,atal bihari vajpayee
(From L) Rambhau Mhalgi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay during a Bharatiya Jana Sangh meet. (HT File Photo)

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise on Friday at age 93, continued to revive poignant memories of his numerous visits to the city.

One such anecdote related to the time in the late 1960s when he surprised everyone by arriving unannounced at Anand Mangal Karyalaya, a marriage hall, in front of Nehru stadium at Swargate.

Vajpayee had arrived in the city for some party work and was expecting the late MP Rambhau Mhalgi to be present at one of the events. However, when told that he was busy in a wedding in his family, Vajpayee decided to travel to Pune to be present at the happy occasion.

Mhalgi’s son Jayant recalled that it was his cousin’s wedding and Vajpayee’s sudden appearance reflected on the deep friendship with his father.

“When Atalji visited Pune for the first time, he stayed at our home at Shaniwar peth. This was as per the tradition in the Sangh Parivar that whenever any state or national-level leader visits a new town or city, he camps at a party worker’s residence,” Jayant said. Vajpayee was thus a frequent guest at the Mhalgi residence.

When some party workers said that they did not have an invitation, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader brushed it aside and said there is no need of an invitation to attend a wedding at a party colleague’s residence. Vajpayee and his group then joyously attended the wedding and partook in the feast.

“When the Janata Party came to power, Vajpayee became external affairs minister. Despite being a minister, he retained his simplicity. Instead of calling Rambhau to his office or residence for some consultation, Vajpayee would visit Rambhau’s home at New Delhi to discuss various things,” Jayant said.

In 1954, Rambhau organised a meeting between Vajpayee and the party workers in the city. There was another occasion in 1956 when he organised Vajpayee’s speech on the second five year plan which got a good response from students. “Vajpayee not only gave a speech but after that, also wrote the intro of the press note which was issued to media houses,” he said.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 14:59 IST