Chennai, India info@chakrafoundation.org +91

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

(1924 – 2018) – (Uttar Pradesh)

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Aged 94) was born on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India. He was an Indian statesman who served as the prime minister of India for three terms. He held the position for 13 days in 1996, for 13 months from 1998 to 1999, and for a full term from 1999 to 2004.

Vajpayee was a co-founder and senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist volunteer organization. He was the first Indian prime minister who was not from the Indian National Congress to serve a full term in office.

In addition to his political career, he was also a noted poet and writer. He served as a member of the Indian Parliament for over five decades, having been elected ten times to the Lok Sabha, the lower house, and twice to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. He represented the constituency of Lucknow, retiring from active politics in 2009 due to health concerns.

Vajpayee was a founding member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), which he served as president from 1968 to 1972. The BJS merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party, which won the 1977 general election. In March 1977, Vajpayee became the minister of external affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Morarji Desai. However, he resigned in 1979, and the Janata alliance collapsed soon after. Former members of the BJS formed the BJP in 1980, with Vajpayee as its first president.

During his tenure as prime minister, India conducted the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee attempted to improve diplomatic relations with Pakistan, travelling to Lahore by bus to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engagement with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.

In 2014, the administration of Narendra Modi declared that Vajpayee’s birthday, 25 December, would be marked as Good Governance Day. In 2015, he was conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee. He passed away on 16 August 2018 due to age-related illness.