Here are 13 things you should know about Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior.
- As a teenager, Vajpayee was jailed briefly for opposing British colonial rule. He flirted with communism before choosing to support the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jan Sangh.
- Vajpayee dropped out of law school to run an RSS magazine in the early 1950s. Later, he transcended his political roots in the RSS to emerge as the moderate voice of the BJP.
- None other than first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru had predicted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee will become Prime Minister of India one day. This is not known by many people and thus is a piece of a gem as an unknown fact.
- He is the only Prime Minister since Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to have become Prime Minister of India through three successive mandates.
- Vajpayee first became Prime Minister in 1996 after four decades in opposition. He lasted only 13 days as prime minister for lack of numbers.
- The lack of a stable majority ended his second stint in power from 1998 after 13 months. His government collapsed after AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa withdrew her support from the coalition.
- Vajpayee was reelected in 1999 at the head of a more stable coalition that lasted its full term.
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee always wanted to become a journalist but as he told in an interview, “came to politics by mistake”.
Vajpayee was elected to India’s Lok Sabha (House of the People) a record nine times and elected to the Rajya Sabha (House of the States) two times.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi confers the Bharat Ratna award upon Vajpayee.
- Won from four different states. Did you know that he is by far the only parliamentarian to have been elected from four different states altogether? Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat were those states from where he was elected.
- Vajpayee was the first Prime Minister of India and the first External Affairs Minister of India who had delivered speech in Hindi at the United Nations! Still got any doubts about his oratory skills?
Bonus Point: On 25 December 2014 the office of President of India announced the Bharat Ratna award, India’s highest civilian honour, to Vajpayee. In a special gesture, the President of India conferred Bharat Ratna to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his residence on 27 March 2015. His birthday, 25 December, was declared “Good Governance Day”.