Remembering Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Celebrating the Legacy on His Birth Anniversary

Atal Bihari Vajpayee-

was a Hindu nationalist leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the country’s prime minister twice (1996; 1998–2004). He was born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India, and passed away on August 16, 2018, in New Delhi, Delhi.

In 1957, Vajpayee was first chosen to serve in Parliament as a representative for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), which was the precursor to the BJP. The BJS, along with three other parties, formed the Janata Party in 1977. This party ruled the country until July 1979. During his tenure as the Foreign Minister in the Janata government, Vajpayee received recognition for fostering stronger ties with China and Pakistan. Vajpayee assisted in the BJS’s reorganisation into the BJP following the Janata Party’s split in 1980. He was one of the Hindu leaders who protested against radical Hindu groups’ 1992 demolition of Ayodhya’s mediaeval mosque.

Vajpayee became prime minister in May 1996, but his attempts to win over other parties proved fruitless, and he was only in office for 13 days. He took over as prime minister once more at the start of 1998. Vajpayee was forced to build a precarious alliance with regional parties despite the BJP securing a record number of seats in the elections. The BJP tightened its hold on power and gained more seats in Parliament in 1999.

Practically speaking, though, Vajpayee was criticised in 1998 when India conducted many nuclear weapons tests, which the West denounced. He had already received recognition for his welcoming actions towards the Muslim minority in India. His government started a massive divestiture programme from large state-run enterprises in 2000. In 2002, the Vajpayee government came under fire for taking too long to put an end to the riots in Gujarat, which claimed the lives of about a thousand people, most of them Muslims. Nonetheless, Vajpayee made a determined attempt to settle Pakistan’s long-standing disagreement over the Kashmir area in 2003. Even though some segments of Indian society frequently felt left out of the country’s economic success, under his direction, the country saw steady economic growth and rose to the top of the world information technology rankings.Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics at the end of 2005. In late December 2014 he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

Bhartiya Janta Party-

Following India’s independence, a Hindu nationalist political party called the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was born. Members from Northern India and upper castes have thrown their support behind the party. It has attempted to win over members of the lower castes, particularly by assigning a number of them to prominent posts within the party. In Northern India’s Hindi-speaking areas, the BJS made considerable progress in 1967. A decade later, under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the party created the Janata Party and ran the government in coalition with three other political parties.

On the other hand, internal strife caused the government to fall in July 1979. In 1980, the BJP was formally formed as a result of disagreements within the Janata coalition. Its leaders wanted to stop BJS personnel from joining the RSS. Later, under the direction of Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, and Murli Manohar Joshi, the BJS reorganised as the BJP.

Strongly opposing the secular policies and practices of the Indian National Congress, the BJP promoted Hindutva (“Hindu-ness”), an ideology that aims to define Indian culture within the framework of Hindu principles. Though the Babri Masjid (Babur’s Mosque) was already there, the BJP started pushing for the construction of a Hindu temple at Ayodhya, a location revered by Hindus, in 1989, and this is when it started to achieve electoral success. By 1991, the BJP had become much more popular in politics, winning four states and 117 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower chamber of the Indian Parliament.

The BJP-affiliated groups’ destruction of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 provoked a fierce backlash against the party. Over a thousand individuals were slain nationwide in a wave of violence that followed the damage. The party’s dedication to secularism in contemporary India was met with scepticism and distrust by many observers of the time. In an attempt to allay apprehensions, rebuild public trust, and broaden its support base, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organised a number of symbolic political marches known as Rath Yatras, which called for the appearance of the Hindu deity Lord Rama. It was thought of these Yatras as a movement for cultural renewal.

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