Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the 10th Prime Minister of India, was a well respected and beloved leader of the masses. He was a true statesman. We've known him as one of the greatest parliamentarians, politicians and Prime Ministers of the Indian history. But as we approach his 95th birth anniversary, here are 22 lesser known facts about the man.
- Atal Ji attended the same Law college with his father in Kanpur and lived in the same hostel room. This went on till both of them were placed in different rooms
- His first activism started with Arya Kumar Sabha in Gwalior
- As a child, Vajpayee was greatly influenced by the works of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, Munshi Premchand and Maithli Sharan Gupta.
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee was imprisoned for 23 days for participating in the Quit India Movement.
- He was once a communist. Before joining Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vajpayee was slightly inclined towards ideas of communism. However, after being influenced by Babasaheb Apte, he joined RSS in 1939 and became a Pracharak in 1947
- Amar Kirti Vijay Pataka by Mahatma Ramchandra Veer left a huge impact on Atal Bihari Vajpayee's life and he even dedicated his career to it
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee never got married but has an adopted daughter whose name is Namita
- When asked about marriage, Atal Ji jokingly answered: “I stay so busy that I forgot”
- Vajpayee Ji was fluent in Marathi and even translated multiple poems of Veer Savarkar from Marathi to Hindi
- Before entering politics, he did a small stint with journalism and even published two monthlies - Rastradharma and Panchjanya
- Atal Ji was fond of poetry and art. He even released 2 albums with Jagjit Singh featuring his poems: Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna(2002)
- Once a national level debater, Atal Ji’s oratory skills were so impressive that after delivering his maiden speech in the Indian parliament, Jawaharlal Nehru predicted that one day Vajpayee would become the Prime Minister of India
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee had natural love for his mother tongue and as a gesture to uplift the language on an international platform, he became the first person to ever speak in Hindi at the United Nations
- In 1996, he was elected the Prime Minister for 13 days
- Born in a Hindu- Brahmin family, Atal ji loved non-veg cuisine. His favourite food was prawn and his favourite restaurant was Karim’s in Old Delhi
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the only parliamentarian in our country’s history to have been elected to Lok Sabha from 4 different states - UP, MP, Gujarat, Delhi.
- Manmohan Singh once addressed Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “Bhishma Pitamah” of Indian politics
- To emphasise the growing role and importance of Science, Atal ji improvised Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan to: “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan”
- Vajpayee was known to have a respectable relationship with the Opposition. In 1977, as a minister of external affairs, when he entered his office and found the portrait of Jawaharlal Nehru was missing, he immediately ordered his staff to bring it back
- He is known to have led Operation shakti despite immense foreign pressure. He is credited to have made India a Nuclear power
- Atal Ji was sick for a very long time and had undergone 10 surgeries in 20 years
- His birthday, 25 December, was declared “Good Governance Day” as recognition of his services to the nation
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as we know him today, had a great tenure as the Prime Minister, a true statesman led the country towards a new era. He will always be remembered as a leader of the masses, a politician of high morality and as a true patriot.
(The writer is currently working as an intern)