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Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): A Life Less Ordinary

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): A Life Less Ordinary
Atal Bihari Vajpayee with then Defence Minister George Fernandes and DRDO head Dr APJ Abdul Kalam after the Pokhran-2 nuclear tests in 1998. (Source – Twitter account of the Vice President of India)

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): A Life Less Ordinary

A three-time Prime Minister, Vajpayee was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957.

Former Prime Minister and iconic Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away in Delhi on Thursday, will be remembered for many important phases in India’s history. He was the Prime Minister when India fought the Kargil War with Pakistan and when the country conducted its second round of nuclear tests. His tenure as Prime Minister from 1999-2004 is also the time when the government took many steps to boost the country’s infrastructure. The former Prime Minister was 93 when he passed away.

Here Are Some Highlights From An Eventful Life

  •  25 December 1924: Born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He completes his schooling and graduation in Hindi from Gwalior, and post-graduation in Political Science from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • 1951: Atal Bihar Vajpayee joins the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the forerunner of the BJP.
  • 1957: Elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time, on a BJS ticket. He enters the Lok Sabha when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India.
  • 1977: The BJS joins several other political groups to form the Janata Party. Vajpayee becomes the Foreign Minister in the Morarji Desai government that lasts till 1979.
  • 1980: He becomes the first president of the newly-formed BJP. He is among its senior-most leaders along with the likes of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and Lal Krishna Advani.
  • May 1996: He becomes the Prime Minister for the first time, after the BJP emerges as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha. The government lasts barely 13 days; Vajpayee resigns after failing to get the support of other parties to prove a majority in the House.
  • March 1998: He becomes the Prime Minister for a second time after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comes to power.
  • May 1998: India carries out the Pokhran 2 underground nuclear tests with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister. The entire western world is taken by surprise; Vajpayee coins the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan”.
  • February 1999: The Indian Prime Minister travels to Lahore on the inaugural India-Pakistan bus service in an effort to strengthen relations with the neighbouring country. He meets then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
  • April 1999: Vajpayee becomes the first Prime Minister to lose a no-confidence motion, by a stunning 1-vote difference. The council of ministers resigns; continues as the caretaker government.
  • May 1999: Pakistani-backed infiltrators cross the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir; the 1999 Kargil War begins.
  • 24 July 1999:  India announces victory as the last of the Pakistani personnel is driven out of Kargil. The day is celebrated as the Kargil Vijay Diwas.
  • October 1999: Vajpayee leads the NDA to victory in the Lok Sabha polls. He takes oath as the Prime Minister for the third time.
  • December 1999: Flight IC 814 from Kathmandu to Delhi is hijacked by terrorists to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in one of the darkest moments in Indian history. India is forced to release three Jammu and Kashmir militants in exchange for the hostages.
  • July 2001: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf travels to India for the historic Agra summit with Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • December 2001: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists launch an attack on Parliament House in Delhi. All the five terrorists are gunned down. Fourteen people, including personnel of the Delhi Police and the Parliament’s security staff lose their lives.
  • 2004: The ruling NDA loses the Lok Sabha elections, much against predictions made before the polls. The high-profile India Shining campaign fails to deliver.
  • 2009: The former Prime Minister suffers a stroke. He stays out of public life for most of the time thereafter.
  • 2015: He is conferred with India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
  • 11 June 2018: The former Prime Minister is admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) with a kidney tract infection and other complaints.

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