Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu hailed former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a “crown jewel of Indian politics” and said his stellar contributions to the country have left an indelible impact on millions of people.
“He (Vajpayee) was a leader with a fine blend of toughness and tenderness. He was a unique person, a rare blend of diverse talents, a complete man,” he said, speaking at a meeting organised in memory of Vajpayee by Pragna Bharati, an intellectual forum.
The former Prime Minister, one of India’s most charismatic leaders, died in New Delhi on August 16 following prolonged illness.
Vajpayee’s parliamentary contributions, administrative acumen and oratory skills have left an indelible impact on millions of Indians, Naidu said.
The former prime minister practised politics of principles and infused values into politics “which is the need of the hour”, he said.
His government fell by one vote but Vajpayee refused to bargain to buy MPs, Naidu said.
The transformational changes Vajpayee envisaged were truly remarkable, he said.
“As someone wrote, Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee stewarded projects that defied the constraints of their times, and have become markers of Indian modernity,” he said.
“India is modern because of the great contribution made by these great Prime Ministers. Pandit Nehru as well as Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“You may differ with Nehruji on certain issues. But at the same time, you cannot ignore the contributions he made as far as the projects of the country are concerned,” Naidu said.
He also hailed the contributions of Vajpayee in conducting the Pokhran nuclear test and in the realm of foreign policy.
Recalling his association with Vajpayee, Naidu said the veteran leader had come to his native Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh to campaign for him when he contested as MLA decades ago.
Vajpayee had proposed his name for BJP president’s post for the second time though he had earlier announced (as BJP president) the party’s decision that then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi need not quit over the issue of violence when Vajpayee favoured the Chief Minister to follow ‘Raj dharma’.
“It is not a small matter for me to say as party president, without following the advice of popular Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, the party’s decision that Narendra Modi would continue.
“Without keeping all this in mind, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji proposed my name for a second term,” he said.
He also said he can never forget the love shown towards him by the veteran leader.