Delivering his lecture at the 2nd Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial at the India foundation, Former President of India, Sh. Pranab Mukherjee said that Atal Ji was a great son of India. “Although we worked in ideologically opposite pillars of the polity, his innate qualities as an orator, as a moderator and as a consensus seeker in both his roles as an opposition leader and later as Prime Minister impressed me greatly”, Pranab added.
A lot of dignitaries were present at the Occasion and Sh. Pranab Mukherjee showered praise on former Prime Minister.
“As a statesman and a political stalwart, he dominated the national space for a long time. As a Prime Minister, he kept the nation first. As an opposition leader, he was sharp but matured in his critique. As a democrat he was one of the few leaders who thought of every angle before taking a decision. As an orator, he could enthrall the masses with his chaste linguistic skills. As a policy maker, he did not shy away from taking some tough decisions. I have no hesitation in saying that he was an inheritor and practitioner of the best traditions and qualities of leadership that India can be proud of”, Mukjherjee further added.
Speaking about his presence in the Indian politics, Mukjerjee said that Atal Ji had a very visible presence in Indian Politics for six decades from 1957 to 2009. “He was part of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh since it was founded by Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951, and watched it grow in strength. Since the fourth Lok Sabha in 1967, Vajpayee virtually acted as leader of the opposition, despite the fact that no party was recognised as an opposition party from 1952 to 1977 as they didn’t have the minimum number of members required to be designated so. (i.e 10% of the total seats)” Pranab added.
Remembering another incident, Sh. Pranab Mukherjee said that when Parliament was attacked by the terrorists on December 13, 2001 and Sonia Gandhi was not in the House but rang Prime Minister Vajpayee to inquire about his well-being. Vajpayee later said that Indian democracy was secure when the leader of the opposition expressed anxiety for the well-being of the Prime Minister during a crisis. Such was the magnanimity of Vajpayee.