President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid floral tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his death anniversary. They were joined by several Union Ministers including Amit Shah and BJP national president Amit Shah at ‘Sadaiv Atal’, the memorial to Vajpayee in Delhi, in paying respects to the late Prime Minister.
Vajpayee, the first BJP Prime Minister, had passed away on August 16 in 2018. A statesman and saffron stalwart, he held the post of the Prime Minister of India for three terms in 1996, 1998-99 and from 1999-2004.
Born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States (the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh), and was twice a Member of the Rajya Sabha.
Vajpayee was also involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942. One of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, Vajpayee became its president in 1968. He made a name for himself as an orator and for his poetic flourishes. His poetry, collated in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems) reflect it.
The movement against the Emergency declared in 1975 saw Vajpayee and the Jan Sangh join forces with the Janata Party, and in the 1977 polls, be elected to the Lok Sabha and appointed as Minister for External Affairs.
Vajpayee founded the Bharatiya Janata Party on April 6, 1980 after the dissolution of the Jan Sangh. He served as its first president. When elections were held in 1984, the BJP won just two seats. In 1984, LK Advani was appointed president of the party. The BJP threw its support behind the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The party won 86 seats in 1989 Lok Sabha, a tally that made its support crucial to the National Front government of VP Singh. In the 1991 elections, the BJP won 120 seats. In the 1996 elections, the party pocketed 161 seats, making it the largest party in Parliament. Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister but was unable to attain a majority in the Lok Sabha, forcing the government to resign after 13 days.
In the 1998 elections, the saffron party won 182 seats and Vajpayee once again became the Prime Minister. This time, the government survived for 13 months. When elections were held in 1999, the BJP once again stormed to power with 182 seats. The party was supported by its allies and Vajpayee completed the full five years term.
Vajpayee retired from active politics in December 2005. Referred as the 'Bhishma Pitamaha' of BJP, Vajpayee was conferred Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, in 2015. He breathed his last on August 16 in 2018.