The ruling BJP won landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and returned to power for second consecutive term at the Centre. But the party lost five tall leaders in past one year which is irreparable loss. These five great leaders were Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manohar Parrikar, Ananth Kumar, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. The BJP and the entire country will always remember their contributions to the nation.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He died on August 16, 2018, in New Delhi. He served as the prime minister of India thrice.
Vajpayee was first elected to parliament in 1957 as a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) which was forerunner of the BJP. In 1977 the BJS joined three other parties to form the Janata Party which led a government that lasted until July 1979. As foreign minister in the Janata government, Vajpayee earned a reputation for improving relations with Pakistan and China. In 1980, following a split in the Janata Party, Vajpayee helped the BJS to reorganise itself as the BJP. In 1992 he was one of the few Hindu leaders to speak out against the destruction of the historic mosque at Ayodhya.
Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister in May 1996 but was in office only 13 days, after failing to attract support from other parties. In early 1998 he again became prime minister, in elections in which the BJP won a record number of seats, but he was forced to make a shaky alliance with regional parties. In 1999 the BJP increased its seats in parliament and came back to power.
Former Defence Minister and the four times Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar passed away on March 17, 2019, at the age of 63. He was born on December 13, 1955. He was the Chief Minister of Goa since 14 March 2017. Parrikar was battling prolonged illness. He was diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer. A graduate in metallurgical engineering from IIT-Bombay in 1978, he was the first IITian to serve as the legislator of a state.
Parrikar proposed the name of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate before 2013 BJP parliamentary elections convention in Goa. He served in the National Democratic Alliance government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Defence Minister of India from 2014 to 2017. He was a former member of Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. Parrikar was the Defence Minister in 2016 when India conducted a surgical strike on terror launch pads across the LoC, days after the terror attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.
Ananth Kumar was Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers. He was born in 1959 in Bangalore. Ananth Kumar was influenced by the RSS from his childhood and joined the ABVP, the BJP’s student wing. During the Emergency, he was imprisoned. He was later elected ABVP’s State Secretary and then its National Secretary in 1985. He joined the BJP and was nominated state president of the BJP Yuva Morcha. He was then made BJP National Secretary in 1996.
In 1996, he was elected from Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency and has been elected from the same seat six consecutive times. In 1998 he was inducted into the Union Cabinet headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Minister for Civil Aviation. In 1999, he became a Cabinet minister in the NDA government. He handled various ministries like Tourism, Sports & Youth Affairs, Culture, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.
He became the President of the Karnataka state unit of BJP in 2003 and led the BJP to become the single largest party in the Legislative Assembly and won the highest number of the Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in 2004. In 2004, he was appointed as the National General Secretary of the BJP.
Sushma Swaraj, a veteran leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Minister of External Affairs in the Narendra Modi government in its first term, died on August 6, 2019, following a heart attack. She was 67. She breathed her last in New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
She was also the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs from May 26, 2014, to January 7, 2016. She represented Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha constituency in the 16th Lok Sabha. She had joined the BJS after the Emergency of 1975. Swaraj had won her first election at the age of 25 in 1977 from the Ambala Cantonment Assembly constituency. In July 1977, she had become a Cabinet Minister in the Janata Party Government under Chief Minister Devi Lal. She taken got the position of the state president of Janata Party (Haryana) in 1979. Swaraj was also the Education Minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party–Lok Dal coalition government in Haryana during 1987-1990.
A Cabinet minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Swaraj had held the portfolios of Health and Family Welfare, Information and Broadcasting at different junctures. She was the Chief Minister of Delhi from October 13, 1998 to December 3, 1998. In November 2018, Sushma Swaraj had announced that she would not contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 due to health reasons.
Arun Jaitley was born on 28 December 1952 in Delhi. Until 2014, Jaitley had never contested any direct elections. That year, he was BJP candidate in Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, but lost to Amarinder Singh of Congress. Jaitley was selected by newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be Minister of Finance, Minister for Corporate Affairs and Minister of Defence in his cabinet. With Jaitley as FM, the Modi government was able to take several key economic decisions like demonetisation and GST. In Jaitley’s stewardship, the Modi government merged the railway budget with the general Budget. Moreover, the decision to advance the date of the general budget to February 1 was also taken with Jaitley as FM. GST went under several tax-slab revisions and Jaitley maneuvered them efficiently. He also introduced Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to resolve the issues with companies that were turning insolvent.