The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu paid glowing tributes to former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary today.
Unveiling the portrait of the former Prime Minister at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre in Kolkata today, the Vice President said that Vajpayee Ji taught everybody to serve the country selflessly and to remain steadfastly committed to the principles of humanism and tolerance.
Describing Shri Vajpayee as a statesman and a visionary, the Vice President said that he was not only one of the tallest leaders of the country but was also one of the most loved leaders.
“It is a solemn day today. His humble life, love of country and its people and ability to dream big for the country is an inspiration to all,” he said.
The Vice President spoke extensively of his long association of the Shri Vajpayee and said that he had the opportunity to work with him in the party and later as a minister in his cabinet to give shape to rural connectivity revolution by way of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
Observing that Atal Ji demonstrated how democracy can be strengthened through good governance, the Vice President said that the former Prime Minister ushered in a ‘connectivity’ revolution in the country.
“He gave an unprecedented fillip to the building of national highways, rural roads, air travel infrastructure and massive expansion of the telecom sector. For him, connectivity was the key enabler of economic development and national growth,” he added.
Talking about Shri Vajpayee’s active role in shaping India’s post-Independence domestic and foreign policy, the Vice President said that the former Prime Minister strongly believed in a forward-looking, forward moving India, a strong and prosperous nation confident of its rightful place on the international fora.
He said Vajpayee Ji firmly believed that India has a legitimate right to becoming a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
Shri Naidu said that Atal Ji had an uncanny ability to connect with people from all walks of life and with political parties of different ideological moorings. “Atal Ji had virtually no enemies and was rightly called as Ajatshatru,” he added.
The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, The Minister for Science & Technology and Biotechnology and Forest Department, Government of West Bengal, Shri Bratya Basu, Member of Parliament & President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and the Director-General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Shri Akhilesh Mishra were present.
The following is the full text of the speech:
Today we are gathered to pay tribute to our beloved former Prime Minister late, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji on his first death anniversary.
He was not only one of the tallest leaders of the country but also one of the most loved leaders. We lost a great leader and visionary in Vajpayee ji on this day last year. It is a solemn day today. His humble life, love of country and its people and ability to dream big for the country is an inspiration to all.
He was a great administrator, highly popular politician, orator par excellence, an outstanding Parliamentarian and a great role model to all.
Known for his liberal worldview and commitment to democratic ideals, a multifaceted personality, respected by all, Vajpayee ji was a man of the masses and a guiding light for the political class. During one of his speeches in the Rajya Sabha, former Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh referred to Vajpayee ji as theBhishma Pitamah of Indian politics. Such was the stature of Vajpayee ji that commanded respect from all.
Atal ji had an uncanny ability to connect with people from all walks of life and with political parties of different ideological moorings. Atal Ji had virtually no enemies and was rightly called as Ajatshatru.
Of the leaders who stood steadfast as a bridge between the times when the country was struggling for freedom and when it was a free country striving to be an emerging power, Vajpayee ji was one of the strong pillars of that stable bridge reminding us always:
A veteran Parliamentarian, Vajpayee ji’s career and contributions stretched over five decades. He was elected to the Lok Sabha 10 times and to the Rajya Sabha twice, which is a record by itself. In 1994, he was conferred with India’s ‘Best Parliamentarian’ award, the citation of which summarized Vajpayee ji’s life and persona so succinctly. It read : “True to his name, Atalji is an eminent national leader, an erudite politician, a selfless social worker, forceful orator, poet and litterateur, journalist and indeed a multi-faceted personality…Atalji articulates the aspirations of the masses… his works ever echo total commitment to nationalism.”
A statesman and a visionary, Vajpayee ji led the country to new heights as India’s Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Chairperson of various important Standing Committees of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition.
He was very active in shaping India’s post-Independence domestic and foreign policy. He believed in a forward-looking, forward moving India, a strong and prosperous nation confident of its rightful place on the international fora. He firmly believed that, “India has a legitimate right to becoming a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.” During his second term as Prime Minister , the 1998 Pokhran-II Nuclear tests and the victory in 1999 Kargil war changed India’s image internationally as that of an assertive country.
Yet, he was conscious when he said, “We are unnecessarily wasting our precious resources in wars… if we must wage war, we have to do it on unemployment, disease, poverty, and backwardness.” His understanding of the social issues that gripped the country was deep. He would say, “Poverty is multidimensional. It extends beyond money incomes to education, health care, political participation and advancement of one’s own culture and social organization...’’. He always worked towards addressing these issues.
An ardent champion of women’s empowerment and social equality, Vajpayee ji’s government introduced several economic and infrastructural reforms which included encouraging private sector and foreign investments, reducing wasteful governmental expenditure, promoting research and development.
Atal ji demonstrated how democracy can be strengthened through good governance.
The former Prime Minister ushered in a ‘connectivity’ revolution in the country. He gave an unprecedented fillip to building of national highways, rural roads, air travel infrastructure and massive expansion of the telecom sector. For him, connectivity was the key enabler of economic development and national growth.
The National Highways Development Project connecting the states and major cities; Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana connecting every village and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aimed at improving education at primary and secondary levels in the country are some of the well-known projects initiated by Vajpayee ji which transformed the country. Today, these are the success stories. In 2014, Vajpayee ji’s Birthday – 25th December – was declared “the Good Governance Day”. He was conferred Padma Vibhushan in 1992 and India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna by the President of India in 2015 in recognition of his selfless dedication to the country and service to society and the nation.
Tribute paid to Vajpayee ji will be incomplete if I fail to mention about his passion for writing. Vajpayee ji was as much a prolific writer as he was an impactful orator. His personality is revealed in totality in his works, both in prose and poetry. He would say, “My poet’s heart gives me strength to face political problems, particularly those which have a bearing on my conscience.” His writings were honest and sensitive, fearless and powerful.
Even though he is no more with us today, his life and works, his ideals and memories will always be with us.Vajpayee ji will continue to live in our hearts. Vajpayee Ji taught us all to serve the country selflessly and to remain steadfastly committed to the principles of humanism and tolerance. I would like to end my tribute to Vajpayee ji by quoting a few lines from his poem: