While the entire nation grieves the demise of the “Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics’’ former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his party is gearing up to use this as an opportunity to bring back the lost charm amongst the masses, especially in a state like Uttar Pradesh where key seats Phulpur and Gorakhpur were swept away in the recent by-elections.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s tallest leader Vajpayee, a Statesman and pragmatist, orator and poet, a man of peace and conviction, as described by his admirers, after being critically ill for the last few days, has breathed his last at 5.05 pm on Thursday at the age of 93 in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. According to the team of doctors under the supervision of AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, who were treating the veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader, he was admitted to AIIMS on June 11 following complaints of a lower respiratory tract infection and kidney issues and was informed to be stable for these nine weeks. However, his situation deteriorated to be critical since Wednesday afternoon after which he was shifted on the life support system.
The mortal remains of three-time prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was accorded a state funeral with full military honours, were cremated at Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday and the ceremony was attended by the leaders from both sides of the aisle and representatives from the SAARC nations.
The central government announced a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect, the West Bengal government had declared a half-day holiday in its offices and educational institutions and many states including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and Odisha announced a holiday on Friday. However, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s announcement to “put former prime minister’s last remains in the sacred rivers of all the districts in the state” has caught many eyes.
Ajay Rai, the former Congress MLA from Varanasi stated, “The Yogi government should not politicise the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee’s era has dimmed now and it’s the era of Modi and Shah in BJP. They are trying to gain sympathy wave for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections but it will not help the party. With Atal Ji’s retirement from national politics, the style of BJP’s functioning has completely changed.”
As stated by the official spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh government, the Chief Minister has announced that in the ancestral place of Atalji in Bateshwar area of Agra, in Kanpur, where he took his education, in his first Parliamentary constituency Balrampur to his “Karma Bhumi” Lucknow, special works would be undertaken to keep his memories alive.
While many taunted BJP for using the public sentiment around the death of Vajpayee to gather sympathy support before the general elections, there are many who pointed fingers at all the national leaders for paying no attention to the veteran for all these years since he took retirement from the national politics in 2009. The confusion over the exact date and time of former prime minister’s death, that is floating in the air since Thursday, too, raised a question over the demise. At the same time, many confused netizens took to social media and raised several questions about the not-so-accurate reports on the same.
Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Shalabh Mani Tripathi expressed, “It is extremely unfortunate to see people linking Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death to politics. The entire nation including the party workers of BJP is mourning the death and paying tribute to the departed soul. People across the nation should not politicise the sentiments behind the UP CM’s decision.”
BJP followers at many places across the nation too went violent. Swami Agnivesh was surrounded and manhandled on Friday near the BJP office in Delhi, where he had gone to pay his last respects to the former prime minister. This attack follows another attack on the 79-year-old social activist in July by a mob that allegedly included BJP workers in Jharkhand.
Samajwadi Party national spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari asserted, “I don’t think that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath entirely understood the legacy, principals, and the morals of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Although, his decision to put the last remains of the veteran BJP leader in the rivers of UP can be considered as a step to inspire the citizens with Vajpayee’s remarkable character and his ethics.”
In another instance, Syed Matin, a Corporator from All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Aurangabad was badly beaten by his fellow corporators for opposing the condolence proposal of late Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the house of Aurangabad Municipal Corporation in Maharashtra.
CPI (M) leader Ajit Abhyankar said, “According to me, the sympathy wave with the demise of the former prime minister will not help the party anyhow even if UP CM Adityanath tries his best as he doesn’t match to the spirit of late Atalji as a Popular leader. The Yogi government is emphasising more to take the initiative in a massive way to pay tributes to late Vajpayee because Uttar Pradesh was the hometown of the veteran leader and he belonged to that Hindi Belt.”