Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Digital Gallery:

Videos on Life & Vision of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Tweets on #GoodGovernanceDay by @MIB_India 

Speeches of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Lend a Helping Hand
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Vol-III, PD)

LARGE AREAS OF Gujarat and Rajasthan, and some other parts of the country are in the grip of a severe drought. Crops have withered away, water resources have dried up, there is no fodder for cattle.
In village after village, hunger stalks men, women and children.
More than five crore people have been affected by the drought. They can only stare at the parched earth and hope that this year the monsoon will not elude them.
But the rains are still months away.
We cannot leave our own brothers and sisters at the mercy of their fate or the cruelty of vagaries of nature. At this moment, they need our help to tide over the calamity that has fallen upon them, to survive hunger and disease, to rebuild their lives and to save their cattle that often are their only wealth.
The Union Government has been releasing funds from the National Fund for Calamity Relief and other schemes.
However, given the severity of the drought and the large number of people and cattle who need to be provided with food and fodder, these funds are inadequate. You can help meet the shortage by contributing money, no matter how small the amount, to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.
Last year, it was your assistance that enabled us to meet the -challenge posed by the super cyclone that devastated coastal Orissa. I am confident that this time, too, you shall come forward to lend a helping hand to your brothers and sisters in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Together, we can overcome this challenge.
Strengthening Transparency in Governance
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Vol-III, PD)

One YEAR AGO, the people of India reposed their faith in the National Democratic Alliance. I thank my countrymen for giving my government and me an opportunity to serve Mother India.
The people voted for stability and good governance. Their mandate was an expression of their collective desire to make India a prosperous and proud nation in the 21st century. In the past twelve months, we have endeavoured to fulfil their aspirations. Our democracy is steadily growing in maturity to prove that a coalition government at the Centre can be stable and successful. The India at the beginning of the new century is an India that stands stronger, prouder and taller than before. India is now seen as an emerging global player whose voice is being heard with recognition and respect in the capitals of the world.
We have fulfilled several promises contained in our common manifesto. It shall be our earnest endeavour to fulfil many more that are still unaccomplished.
Our governance has been free of corruption scandals, and we are determined to further strengthen standards of transparency in Government and probity in public life. Centre- State relations have become harmonious. The situation in Jammu & Kashmir and in the North-East is improving steadily. I am confident that it will improve further in the coming months. Simultaneously, the circle of international support for our stand on Kashmir is expanding rapidly. Our fight against terrorism continues—and shall continue—till the terrorist's gun falls silent.
Our economy is growing steadily. We are now removing the hurdles for its faster growth, so that we can achieve our ambitious target of doubling the per capita income by the end of this decade. The number of people living below the poverty line has declined. Food security is no longer a distant dream. I want to assure the people that the economic reforms we have initiated have no other aim than to create employment for all and bring the fruits of prosperity for all—especially to those who have so far been deprived of it.
These are the achievements not of any party or alliance, but of a nation on the move. They have been made possible by the close bond between the people and the Government. I want to urge all my countrymen to further strengthen this bond, so that India can move from success to greater success in the coming years.
The path of reforms is never easy or straight. Sometimes, the Government has to take hard decisions in the long-term interests of the nation. For example, the unprecedented increase in global oil prices has forced us to pass on some of the burden to the consumers. We have to face such challenges collectively. The haves must bear a greater share of the burden than the have-nots in the transition period.
Terrorism Cannot Stop Peace Process
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Vol-III, PD)

I  VISITED PAHELGAM and Srinagar on Thursday (3.8.2000) to study the situation arising out of recent massacre in various places in Jammu and Kashmir and of pilgrims at Pahelgam. I am thankful to Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Shri Somnath Chatterjee, Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shri Yerrannaidu and Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for agreeing to join me at such short notice. My colleagues Shri George Fernandes, Ms. Mamata Bannerjee and Shri Chaman Lai Gupta also joined me along with the Chief of Army Staff. From Srinagar, the Governor and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir accompanied us.
Our visit was also intended to assure the people of the State that the entire nation stood by them at this hour and to share their grief over the inhuman behaviour of the terrorists against innocent people belonging to the State as well as many from other parts of the country on pilgrimage to Amarnath.
The briefing which we were given by the Chief of Unified Command and security forces, made it clear that perpetrators of these heinous crimes were foreigners. Arms and ammunitions recovered from them clearly establish their links with Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Delegations of local population as well as pilgrims met me and spoke to me about the difficulties they were facing in the wake of the killings.
The House, I am sure, is one with me in assuring the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the nation that we will not yield before terrorism. I may add that while the fight against terrorism will be continued, India will not give up efforts for restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
I made it clear at Srinagar that the dialogue with Hizbul Mujahideen is a part of this effort. Other groups who have chosen the path of violence should also realize that the people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace in the State. It is futile for them to continue on the path of violence. They should come forward for talks with the Government for redressal of their grievances.
Defeat the Threat to Internal Security
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book,Vol-III, PD)

WE HAVE GATHERED here today to discuss the prevailing internal security situation and possible ways and means of dealing with serious crime in its various manifestations.
Maintaining law and order is the constitutional responsibility of State Governments. But, internal security is no. longer limited to mere maintenance of law and order. Since the decade of the 80s, the nature and definition of internal security have changed radically.
Somewhere around the early 80s, we were confronted by a challenge that, over the years, has assumed ominous proportion—the challenge of terrorism. Although it surfaced in one State, terrorism has spread its deadly tentacles to other States, assuming an all-India dimension.
The problem of terrorism that we face is engineered, fuelled and executed from across our border. Pakistan has adopted cross-border terrorism as an instrument of State policy to further its hostility towards India.
Responsible Press—An Important Pillar of the Nation
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book,Vol-III, PD)       
 IT GIVES ME great pleasure to be with you at this prestigious assembly of eminent journalists from around the world, under the aegis of the International Press Institute. I am especially heartened by the fact that you chose to hold your Congress at a time that coincided with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Indian Republic. I hope you enjoyed watching the Republic Day Parade yesterday.
The celebration of our Republic is also, in some ways, a celebration of our free press. India is proud to have one of the freest media in the world. The number and diversity of the media outlets in English and other languages in our country, the sheer range of views and opinions expressed in them, the large and well-protected space for dissent and criticism, and, lately, their growing technological sophistication—all these have earned for the Indian press an honoured place on the global media map.
Your choice of the timing of the IPI Congress may be a coincidence of the calendar. However, at a deeper level, there is a profound conceptual interconnection between the two events. A free and responsible press is an important pillar of the Republican architecture—as essential for a healthy democracy as the legislature or the judiciary.
I wish to lay special emphasis on the two defining qualities of the press—freedom and responsibility. The press is either free, or it cannot be called the press at all. Freedom of thought and the right to information are a fundamental human right. What turns this abstract ideal into a force of democratic empowerment is the free press.
Free flow of information and ideas, effected by newspapers, magazines and journals, radio, television, and now the Internet, pulls down the most elaborate barriers for self-protection erected by authoritarian regimes of all ideologies and labels. The triumphant march of democracy in several parts of the world in recent decades was catalyzed, largely, by the media.
Thus, journalists are the torchbearers of democracy and I am honoured to add my own personal welcome to the most eminent representatives of the global journalistic community who have come to India for this Congress.
Friends, responsibility is the flip side of freedom. The media commands an extraordinary power to do good or bad, because of its capacity to influence events and minds. Therefore, the media cannot be value-neutral. It must reflect a strong sense of social responsibility, and an ability to distinguish between right and wrong. If the media expects—and rightly so—accountability from governments, political parties, businesses and private individuals, it too must offer itself to be judged by the same norms of accountability.
Beyond the minimum reasonable restrictions imposed by any democratic country, it is entirely up to the media organizations, and the people working in them, to define the content and contours of responsibility. News, entertainment, and other products of the media are not like other commodities in the market. Sensationalism and other tactics to "sell" them with the sole motive to maximize profits militate against the very essence of journalism. On the other hand, self-monitoring, self-regulation and, when necessary, even self-censorship, enhance the credibility of the media, which is its most precious asset.
Distinguished media persons, I have been a journalist myself at some time—though a long time ago—in my life. In later years, my experience in politics and governance has given me some understanding of international relations. I often ask myself: What is the role of journalists and media organizations in reporting, analyzing, and commenting on the affairs of this Global Family?
The forces of globalization and technology have vastly enlarged the reach of the media in the new century. The birth of the information and communication revolution has brought about a phenomenon that one journalist has vividly described as "The Death of Distance". For the first time in the known history of mankind, we can see the making of "One World"— a united, integral, and interdependent world.
This phenomenon has vastly increased people's expectations from the media. In this global family, the community of journalists is rightly called the "Brotherhood of Words". Words and images have power—power to enlighten, power to motivate, power to heal, and power to bring people closer together. Therefore, journalists everywhere should rise above narrow considerations and promote the bonds of mutual understanding and solidarity both within and among the nations of the world.
Media organizations with a global reach have a special role in our times. The astonishing diversity of cultures and traditions, and the rich plurality of thoughts, in different parts of the world are often overshadowed, if not blacked out, by what the dominant media choose to portray. The glaring inequities and imbalances in the global media make it almost impossible for poor and developing nations to tell their story in their own words to the rest of the world.
Diversity of faiths, cultures, ethnicity, and language are a source of strength—and not of weakness—for mankind. As more and more countries around the world begin to reflect these diversities in the new century, because of the increased movement of people and information, it is all the more necessary for the media to be democratic and representative.
There is another thought that I would like to share with you. Various nations of the world are today engaged in a race
to achieve economic prosperity. This is a legitimate objective. The new century must not carry forward the problems of underdevelopment created by the previous centuries. The forces of science, technology, and global co-operation have indeed made it possible for us to achieve this objective.
However, I sometimes worry that, in the race for economic development, the world is ignoring the main agent and beneficiary of science and technology, trade and investment, namely, man. We need to humanize economic development. We need to make man and his deepest aspirations for self- fulfilment and fellowship the focus of all our efforts. Here, too, journalists have an important role to play.
Friends, before I conclude, I would like to dwell briefly on what you, as the leading representatives of the international media, might want to know about the direction in which India is moving. Our democracy is growing in maturity. Multi-party coalition governments are proving to be stable and successful. More and more sections of our diverse society, which were earlier under-represented, have found a voice and a our electoral and governance systems. Very soon, we shall bring forward an important legislation for women's reservation in our Parliament and State Legislatures.
Ours is a multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic nation. The rights of religious minorities are fully protected. We believe that India's demonstration of unity in diversity is, in many ways, useful to the entire world in the age of globalization.
Today our top priority is to achieve faster and more balanced economic growth, so that the fruits of development can reach every one of our billion-plus citizens. To achieve this objective, we have, during the past decade, embarked on an ambitious programme of economic reforms. There is a broad consensus over these reforms across the political spectrum.
Greatness is Our Past— Also Our Future
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Publication Division, Vol-II.)
ACCEPT MY GREETINGS on the sacred occasion of Independence Day. This is a day of hallowed remembrance for us. This is a day of dedication for us.
This year's Independence Day has special significance for all of us. The present century is coming to an end. The world will have entered the next century by the time of the next Independence Day.
As we stand at the sunset of the 20th century, and look back at the events of the era that has passed, we see the end of colonialism from Indian soil to be the most important development. Our great leaders, and many generations of our countrymen, waged a powerful struggle for independence. By doing so, they paved the way for the independence of other countries, too.
We pay our homage to those self-sacrificing and devoted leaders and patriots who struggled for freedom throughout their lives, and, when necessary, even laid down their lives as aahuti (offering) in the great yagya of freedom.
That is a fact of which we can be legitimately, and immensely proud; And it is yet another reason for us to be immensely grateful to the giants, the patriots who led that struggle, who gave their very lives for it.
Come, all my countrymen, let us strive to become worthy heirs to those great leaders. We dedicate this sacred day to their memory.
Supreme Court—the Guardian of the Constitution
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Publication Division, Vol-II.)

I AM HAPPY to be in your midst to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Supreme Court of India. This is a historic occasion not only for your Court and all the members of the Bench and the Bar, not only for the Indian judiciary, but also for all the people of India.
The Supreme Court is the supreme temple of justice in India. The concept of Nyaya Devata, which elevates justice to the status of the Divine, is ingrained in Indian culture. On the emblem of the Supreme Court is inscribed the maxim, which defines its role: Yatho Dharmasthato Jay ah (Triumph is where Dharma, or the right order, is).
Today is also Law Day. It was on this day, fifty years ago, that the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution of India. It seems to me, therefore, that the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Supreme Court of India is a fitting curtain-raiser to an even bigger, though related event: the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Republic in the coming year.
The Supreme Court of India is one of the two most important institutions envisaged in the Constitution, the other being the Indian Parliament. It has withstood substantially if not largely or wholly, the test of the past half a century. The performance of the highest institution of the judiciary has been creditable. The nation is proud that the Supreme Court of India has protected the Constitutional order and the Rule of Law.
Our democratic system draws its strength from the fine balance that prevails between Parliament, Executive, and the Judiciary. The Constitution has clearly laid down the specific responsibilities and powers of the three institutions. All three are subservient to the Constitution and accountable to the sovereign people of India. The more each one of us associated with the three institutions realizes this guiding truth, the better we will be able to serve the noble republican ideals enshrined in our Constitution.
The Indian judiciary, especially the Supreme Court of India, has set high standards, for which you deservedly enjoy deep respect and high status in the eyes of the people. Impartiality of justice has been the hallmark of the history of governance in India. The person occupying the judge's seat must keep—and must be seen to keep—the scale of justice even and not bind himself to any selfish interest.
We have the famous example of a religious debate between Sankaracharya and Mandan Mishra, in which Mandan Mishra's wife was made the judge. Sankaracharya did not object to this fearing that her verdict would go in her husband's favour.
I compliment the Judges for keeping up with the times. You have responded positively to the new concerns and challenges emerging before a dynamically changing nation. Successive generations of judges of the Supreme Court have discharged their responsibility with distinction and aplomb. Our judges can hold the candle to the best in the world. Men and women of the highest character and calibre have graced the Bench, adding to its stature nationally, and to its prestige globally. On behalf of my Government and the people of India, I express my deep appreciation and thanks to all of you.
I take this opportunity to also pay my tributes to the higher judiciary for another important reason. During the Emergency— which was the darkest hour for the Indian judiciary and democracy—some of your brother judges showed exemplary courage in upholding the rule of law and the fundamental rights of citizens. Today, we salute them in grateful remembrance.
Even as we look back to the past half-century with joy and pride on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, you will agree that this auspicious event also calls for honest introspection and stock-taking.
Transparency and Accountability—Test of Good Governance
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Publication Division, Vol-II.)
         I AM HAPPY to be with you this morning to inaugurate your conference. I have been associated, in some form or the other, with your work for as long as I have been a Parliamentarian. I know how critical is the work that you do.
Transparency and accountability are the test of good governance. Not only do they ensure the efficacy of the activities and programmes of the government, but they also establish its credibility in the eyes of those who elect it. Credibility is as important for the moral legitimacy of the government as majority support is for its political legitimacy.
Indian democracy has therefore, created a strong institutional framework for adherence to the norms of transparency and accountability. Keeping track of where and how—the government has spent the taxpayers' money, is among the most important duties of legislators.
The legislature cannot perform this Constitutional role without the efforts of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and all those who work under him, especially the Accountants General of the states.
It is their painstaking work, done without fanfare, that tells MLAs and MPs whether the money that they had voted for was spent for the purpose that it was voted for. I congratulate the community of Accountants General—both present and past—for their distinguished service to the Nation.
We expect the Accountants General to implement the National motto “Satyameva Jayate”. The pursuit of truth without fear and favour, without consideration for person or office, is the reason why the founding fathers of our consitituion established this office as a stuatory entity. They also made it independent from the executive, so that it could perform its role without any pressure or interference.
Focusing Attention on the Needs of the North-East
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Publication Division, Vol-II.)
It GIVES ME great pleasure to be present at the inauguration of the diamond jubilee celebrations of The Assam Tribune. It is a privilege to be among you on this day.
Since its inception on August 4, 1939, The Assam Tribune has evolved from being a sedate weekly courier of news to a robust daily newspaper. In these sixty years, this newspaper has proved itself to be a powerful instrument of social, political, and economic change in Assam and other north-eastern states.
Those of us who live in Delhi are rarely aware of newspapers published from other states, especially distant states like Assam. They are referred to as regional papers. However, just like India's national identity is a sum total of her regional identities, India's national media would be incomplete without what is described as the regional press.
In any event, labels like "national" press and "regional" press are often misleading. If we look at history of our regional press, we will find that their contribution, both as vehicles of information and instruments of change, is no less, if not more, than that of the so-called national press.
Nor should we forget that newspapers like The Assam Tribune were never a part of the imperial enterprise. On the contrary, they contributed to the freedom movement by refusing to be co-opted by India's colonial rulers and openly opposing the policies of India's colonial government.
For the owners and editors of these newspapers, journalism was not a commercial proposition. For them, it was a mission that demanded unimpeachable integrity and fierce intellectual independence. Soon after launching The Assam Tribune, the late Radha Govinda Baruah proved that he had both in abundant measure. Severe restrictions were placed on newspapers, especially those run by Indians, under the Defence of India Rules following the outbreak of the Second World War. Undaunted by these restrictions, the late Radha Govinda Baruah maintained the highest traditions of journalism, combining them with the nationalist fervour that was then sweeping through the whole of India. He displayed exemplary courage by standing up against the Cabinet Mission Plan. Starting then, The Assam Tribune was in the forefront of arousing the latent nationalism of India's North-East, thus making a major contribution to the national freedom movement, and to the subsequent consolidation of the country.
After independence, too, The Assam Tribune has displayed remarkable national perspective in its editorial columns, even while playing the role of a catalytic agent in the social, political, and economic changes that Assam has witnessed in the five decades since independence.
The Assam Tribune deserves credit for actively channelling the North-Eastern States' regional aspirations towards India's national development efforts. By taking up issues like the establishment of the Guwahati University, Mr. Arun Jaitley referred to these: a separate High Court, a radio station, and oil refineries. The Assam Tribune has rightly focussed attention on the development and other legitimate needs of our north­eastern region. In all this, The Assam Tribune has been propelled by the belief—by the correct perception—that national prosperity will be possible only when all states prosper.
Empowering Women Benefits All
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Publication Division, Vol-II.)
I AM BOTH pleased and privileged to be here today to felicitate Dr. Mohammad Yunus, the deserving recipient of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development for 1998.
This prestigious award honours those outstanding global citizens who have made a significant contribution to humanity's material and cultural progress. It commemorates Shrimati Indira Gandhi, who was herself, an outstanding international personality of her time. Presenting this award on her birth anniversary is a fitting way to remember her spirited espousal of world peace, disarmament, and issues vital to the developing countries.
Several worthy men and women have received this prize since it was instituted in 1985. Among them have been heads of State and Government, as also individuals and organizations that have championed many humanitarian causes, including those of democracy and development.
Dr. Yunus, however, stands out as unique among the recipients of the Indira Gandhi Award. His lifelong work has added an important new dimension—one that has so far, sadly, been neglected—to the developmental effort in the world. He, and the organization that he heads, are one of the few that have elevated grassroots rural progress to the centre-stage of the developmental debate. Moreover, going beyond academic debate, they have actually proved that grassroots development is possible—given the right vision, the organization that has turned that vision into its mission, and the leader who embodies both the vision and the mission. Dr. Yunus has provided that superior kind of leadership to the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. The bank's recent foray into rural mobile telecommunications is yet another example of its chairman's modern approach wedded to the welfare of the masses.
I congratulate the jury for selecting him for the award. By doing so, they have made their own contribution to the cause of development without imbalances and distortions. At a time when globalization is increasing the centralization of financial services to meet largely metropolitan needs, this successful experiment in rural banking has taken micro-credit and other services to villages. It has shown that bank lending to very small borrowers can indeed, be viable through the mechanism of self-help groups. I am happy to note that the pioneering efforts of Dr. Yunus have been successfully replicated in many parts of India and elsewhere in the world.
Intimately and integrally linked to grassroots, rural development is the need for women's socio-economic empowerment. And here, too, the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has shown the way. Women in traditional societies like India and Bangladesh—indeed, women all over the world—are amazing agents of development. The term "sustainable development", which so powerfully engages the minds of policy-makers, administrators and intellectuals around the world, invariably comes alive when we make women the active participants in, and beneficiaries of, all our developmental efforts.
Towards Ushering in Global Peace
(Excerpts from ‘Towards A NEW WORLD defining moments, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Publication Division.)
I first addressed this august Assembly of the UN as Foreign Minister in 1977. Since then I have has the privilege to come for the General Assembly sessions for many years but it was without ministerial responsibility. I acknowledge with gratitude the confidence of successive Prime Ministers. To me it also signifies the consensus on national interests and the foreign policy of India. When I addressed the General Assembly in 1977, it was the turning point in many ways in the history of India. The Janata Government was a coalition of many factions who united in the restoration of our people’s faith in democracy. Since then we have had many changes of Government but the people’s political awareness and their faith in the institutions which uphold our constitutional system has been unwavering. Today, when I come to this podium as Prime Minister I come on behalf of another coalition. India has demonstrated that democracy can take root in a developing country. I am confident that the Indian experience will prove that democracy can also provide the basis for stable, long-term economic growth in developing societies. This is the path that the people of India have chosen and I stand before you today as the symbol of this new resurgent India.
The world ofthe 1970’s has receded into history. The shackling constraints of the Cold War are gone. The distinguishing feature of the last two decades has been the spread of democracy world­wide. By force of example, we have been one of the authors of the triumph of democracy. From this flows our desire to see democratisation of the UN itself. An international body that does not reflect, and change with, the changing international realities, will inevitably face a credibility deficit. We, therefore, support a revitalized and effective UN, one that is more responsive to the concerns of the vast majority of its member States and is better equipped to meet the challenges ahead of us in the 21st century.
The Security Council does not represent contemporary reality; it does not represent democracy in international relations. Following the end of the Cold War, it has acquired the freedom to act but experience shows that the Council has acted only when it was convenient for is permanent members. The experience of Somalia does not do credit to the Security Council and there are other examples too. Peace-keeping operations cannot be a reflection of ulterior political priorities and perceptions.
There is only one cure to bring in fresh blood. The Security Council must be made representative of the membership of the United Nations. Developing countries must be made permanent members. It is a right to which the developing world is entitled.
Presence of some developing countries as permanent members is inescapable for effectively discharging the responsibilities of the Security Council particularly when we see that the Council acts almost exclusively in the developing world. It is only natural that on decisions affecting the developing world, these countries have a say, on equal terms. Along with other measures, the Security Council too must be reformed, expanding its non-permanent membership so that more developing countries can serve on it. But this alone is not enough. Because as long as effective power in the Council rests with the permanent membership, the interests of the developing world will not be promoted or protected unless developing countries are made permanent members, on par with the present permanent members. Only this will make the Council an effective instrument for the international community on dealing with current and future challenges. The new permanent members must of course have the ability to discharge the responsibilities that come with permanent membership. India believes it can, and, as we had said before from this rostrum, we are prepared to accept the responsibilities of permanent membership and we believe we are qualified for it.
It will be a great day when democracy becomes the universal norm and when the UN reflects this democracy in its institutions and functioning. However, open democratic societies have one scourge to contend with—terrorism. The challenge before countries like mine and other democracies is to maintain our openness, safeguard individual rights, and, at the same time, give no quarter to terrorists. Several speakers before me have recounted the terrible toll, world-wide, that terrorists have exacted, taking advantage of the trust that characterises open societies. I recall that G-7 Summit almost two decades back had identified terrorism as one of the most serious threats to civilized societies. Events since then including the blowing up of Air India Kanishka, the Pan Am Airlines over Lockerbie, to the recent bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam have only established the correctness of that judgment.
Terrorism is one threat that affects us all equally. Terrorism takes a daily toll across the world. It is the most vicious among international crimes, the most pervasive, pernicious and ruthless threat to the lives of men and women in open societies, and to international peace and security. In India, we have had to cope with terrorism, aided and abetted by a neighbouring country, for nearly two decades. We have borne this with patience, but none should doubt the strength of our resolve to crush this challenge. Its tentacles have spread across the world. Today, it has linkages with illicit trade in drugs, arms and money laundering. In short, terrorism has gone global and it can only be defeated by organized international action.
Let us make up our minds once and for all—terrorism is a crime against humanity. Unilateral steps can hardly stand scrutiny in an open society, let alone in the eyes of the international community. It should be the primary task of all open and plural societies to develop collective means for tackling this menace. At the summit meetings in Durban, the Non-Aligned Movement has called for an intranational conference in 1999 to develop such a collective response. We urge that the 1999 conference launch the process of negotiations for an international convention to provide for collective action against States and organizations which initiate or aid and abet terrorism.
Realizing Gandhiji’s Vision of World Peace
(Excerpts from ‘Towards A NEW WORLD defining moments, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Publication Division.)
I am pleased to be here with all of you at this Global Convention on Peace are Non-Violence, which is inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. My heartiest greetings to all the participants. A warm welcome to all our esteemed friends from abroad. Like many of you, I often wonder: Why is it that the passage of time indeed, the passage of over a half century now - has not reduced the relevance Mahatma Gandhi for India and for the entire world? Why do we feel that Gandhiji place in history is in its future, and not in its past? The answer is obvious, Mahatma Gandhi embodied the eternal and universal values of mankind. He not on preached these values, but also lived them. In the end, like many great souls in the past, he also died for them. And in dying for them, he immortalised the message his life.
Gandhiji devoted his life to three main causes. Two of them were largely focused on India; India’s independence from colonial rule and India’s social transformation - be it in the field of social equality, communal harmony, education, dignity of labour and Antyodaya or the concern for the last man on the socio-economic ladder. What he did in these two areas has an enduring significance for us in India. It also has strong appeal for many thinking people around the world.
But the kernel of his life’s message, which makes that message eternal and universal, and which made Mohandas Gandhi into a Mahatma, is peace and Non-Violence. The immense moral force and the unwavering consistency with which he championed the imperative of peace and non-violence - both in the immediate neighbourhood and in the world at large - brought hope to a mankind battered by wars and conflicts. Along with other champions of peace and humanism in the world, he contributed to mankind’s regaining of faith in itself.
Many people, including peace-loving people, are often tempted to think that Gandhiji’s ideal of peace is just an illusion, with no chance of ever becoming reality. This is because, the world continues to be scarred and wounded by violence in many forms. However, the mere continuation of violence cannot negate the need for non­violence. Rather, it provides an added reason and imparts further urgency to our search for peace.
Echoing the belief of all humanistic thinkers around the world, Gandhiji insisted that violence is not the natural state of human existence. Men and societies yearn for without violence. Their most mundane needs as well as their deepest aspiration can be fulfilled only in conditions of peace. Sometimes, nations may go to war, and some groups may fight with each other. But sooner or later, they realise the futility' of bloodshed and the utility of dialogue.
Distinguished friends, the point I wish to make is that the contest between violence and peace need not be a never-ending refrain in the song of humanity’s future. They may sound like an audacious statement, more akin to wishful thinking than to mark historical experience. But I believe that there are certain objective factors modem history that have strengthened the forces of peace relative to the forces violence.
The first among these peace-enhancing objective factors is the power of democracy. When more and more people participate in the affairs of a nations and in determining what should be done and should not be done, the chances of their opting for peaceful course are always greater than otherwise. In the latter half on the 20 century, not only has the power of democracy grown worldwide; but several international and multilateral institutions working on democratic principles have also been founded. The UN and its affiliate organisations are the most important among them. For the first time in human history, so many people, their governments and other representative organisations across the world are engaged in dialogue interaction, cooperation, and conflict-resolution. Even at the level of civil society never in the past had so many citizens and their non-governmental organisation belonging to different countries and communities been interacting with each other so extensively as they are doing now. For example, a global convention of this kind on peace and non-violence was unthinkable in the past. I think that this self assertion of democratic power augurs well for peace in the world of tomorrow.
There is a second factor. In the past fifty years, the international community had debated and adopted many treaties for peace and disarmament - bilaterally, regionally and in the United Nations. The importance of these treaties should not be belittled. No doubt, all countries should act upon these treaties, with sincerity. In this, great powers have a greater responsibility than others to act with responsibility and self-restraint. Collectively, we must take the world swiftly towards the goal disarmament and, specifically, elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.
The existence of the United Nations is perhaps the single most important reason why the world has been able to prevent major wars from breaking out after World War II. However, the UN system needs to be reformed and restructured to accurately reflect contemporary realities as well as to make it more effective in dealing with the challenges to today’s world. Recent global developments have sharply illustrated this need.
The third peace-enhancing objective factor is that both technology and trade have made the world much more inter­dependent, integrated and smaller than we could have ever imagined. Today people and nations know more about one another that they ever did in the past. They meet each other in those events of sports, cultural entertainment and economic relationship, which did not happen so much in this past. They communicate to each other through mass media, in ways that were unimaginable in the past. It is said that the world has shrunk to a “Global Village”, we can say from the Indian experience - and this is perhaps also the experience villages worldwide - that the people of a village know how to live together in peace and how to resolve conflicts through dialogue, by showing sensitivity to each other genuine concerns.
India-US Relations in the Emerging World Order
(Excerpts from ‘Towards A NEW WORLD defining moments, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Publication Division.)
It is a pleasure to be here with Asia Society again. Five years ago, I addressed you on India-US relations. India was then facing a difficult international environment; and that included our relations with USA. Even then, I described India and USA as natural allies. I would like to return to that theme today, to reflect on the transformation in India-US relations, and on the global environment in which this transformation has taken place.
The end of the Cold War encouraged hopes of a rare era in history, when international relations would no longer be defined by great power rivalries. There may be differences on issues and disagreements on approaches, but conflict and confrontation do not overshadow the relations among great and emerging powers. There are debates on whether the international order will be unipolar or multipolar. There are questions about he balance between national interest and international responsibility; about national sovereignty and international obligations. These debates are inevitable, since we are still in the process of shaping the contours of the post-Cold War era.
Another dominant theme of our times is the interdependence of nations, accentuated by technological changes and economic inter-linkages. Globalization has touched every sphere of our activity. The end of the Cold War had kindled hopes of an enduring era of security and stability. This has not happened. Instead, new political problems and security challenges have been thrust upon us. Through all these uncertainties, we still have a unique opportunity today to shape global politics and international relations within a framework of plurality and equality, based on consensus, compassion, Coexistence and cooperation. This cooperative world has to be development-oriented, to accommodate the interests of all.
To achieve this goal requires cooperation among democracies of the world to tackle the challenges, which have survived the Cold War, and those, which have arisen more recently.
Continued terrorist attacks around the world remind us that the global war against terrorism, which commenced after the tragedy of 9/11, is far from over. Our long-term strategy to combat it should have four broad elements—

  • One, a concert of democracies acting in cohesion. A threat against one should be seen as a threat against all.
  • Two, consistency of approach in demanding from all countries, the same high standards in combating terrorism.
  • Three, continuity of resolve, and clarity of purpose. We should not be drawn into the grey zone of conflicting policy objectives, which condone ambiguous positions on terrorism.
  • Four, to win the war against terror, we have to win the war of ideas. We have to expand the constituency of democracy by promoting the ideals of freedom, democracy, rule of law and tolerance, which are our defining strengths.
The post cold war age has also seen a significant proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Today, the threat of their falling into terrorists' hands looms large. The existing regimes for non-proliferation rigorously audit the performance of responsible states, but do not touch the proliferators. An honest reappraisal is required.
The structure of international political, security and economic institutions, established nearly sixty years ago, needs to be reviewed from the perspective of today's realities and future needs. Our international trade negotiations should place the development agenda at the centre of attention. We should not let status quo tendencies sabotage the long-term gains of genuine change.
Iraq and Afghanistan are two immediate test cases of our efforts to build a world order based on cooperation and partnership. In both cases, the way we address these challenges will have far- reaching implications for our common future. In Iraq, we have to develop an international consensus, which accelerates the political, economic and security transformation in the country.
Nuclear Weapons for Self-Defence
(Excerpts from ‘Towards A NEW WORLD defining moments, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Publication Division.)
I rise to inform the House of momentous developments that have taken place while we were in recess. On May 11, 1998 India successfully carried out three underground nuclear tests. Two more underground tests on May 13, 1998 completed the planned series of tests. I would like this House to join me in paying fulsome tribute to our scientists, engineers and defence personnel whose singular achievements have given us a renewed sense of national pride and self-confidence. In addition to the statement I now make, I have also taken the opportunity to submit to the House a paper entitled “Evolution of India’s Nuclear Policy”.
In 1947, when India emerged as a free country to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, the nuclear age had already dawned. Our leaders then took the crucial decision to opt for self- reliance and freedom of thought and action. We rejected the Cold War paradigm and chose the more difficult path of non-alignment. Our leaders also realised that a nuclear-weapon-free-world would enhance not only India’s security but also the security of all nations. That is why disarmament was and continues to be a major plank in our foreign policy.
During the 50’s, India took the lead in calling for an end to all nuclear weapon testing. Addressing the Lok Sabha on April 2, 1954, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, to whose memory we pay homage today, stated, “Nuclear, chemical and biological energy and power should not be used to forge weapons of mass destruction.” He called for negotiations for prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and in the interim, a standstill agreement to halt nuclear testing. This call was not heeded.
In 1965, along with a small group of non-aligned countries,India put forward the idea of an international non-proliferation agreement under which the nuclear weapon states would agree to give up their arsenals provided other countries refrained from developing or acquiring such weapons.
Nurturing Human Rights —An Eternal Challenge
(Excerpts from ‘Towards A NEW WORLD defining moments, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Publication Division.)
The concept of human rights is deeply rooted in the core values of the great civilisations and religions that Asia cradled in antiquity and has nurtured over the centuries. These civilisations have stood the test of time because human dignity, welfare and man’s all-round progress have been their essential concerns.
India’s engagement with the rest of Asia had helped enrich our shared outlook towards life. Our national culture and ethos have always propagated human rights in the broadest sense of the term. They have upheld the values of peace, fraternity, balanced development and cooperation among different communities as the surest way of promoting the well being of all.
Long before globalisation became a reality, requiring nations and communities to accept certain common ethical principles for peaceful co-existence, our ancestors proclaimed the ideals of “ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (The whole world is one family) and “Sarvepi Sukhinah Santu, Sarve Santu Niramayah” (May all people be happy, May all people be healthy).
Thus, India’s understanding and advocacy of human rights are as universal as they are ancient. In modem times, this was manifest in our Freedom Struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
In the Constitution of India, human rights have been enshrined in the chapters on Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy. We have a vibrant parliamentary democracy, whose institutions closely scrutinise the functioning of the executive. We have a strong and independent judiciary. We are proud or our National Human Rights Commission, which we established in 1993 with requisite independence. Most States have also established State-level Human Rights Commissions.
These institutions, combined with a vigilant civil society and a fiercely free press, have complemented the good work being done by our superior courts to uphold the rights of our people.
The end of World War II has begun an era marked by the worldwide growth of three seminal ideas—Democracy, Develop­ment and Human Rights. The contemporary world, including the Asia-Pacific region, is driven by the complex interplay of these three powerful ideas. Under the force of these inter-related ideas, old mindsets are changing. New national, regional and international institutions have been created. Exchange of views and experiences has been taking place at an unprecedented level among govern­mental, semi-govemmental and non-governmental agencies.
As a result, a strong awareness is taking root that we need to promote democracy, development and human rights in an inte­gral and comprehensive manner.
Experience has also taught us that only genuine democracy and equitable development can ensure the fullest protection of human rights, Democratic societies are sensitive to popular aspira­tion. They have parliamentary institutions, media groups and non­governmental organisation, which jealously guard the liberties of citizens and mercilessly expose any shortcomings. Self-corrective mechanisms and remedial measures are automatically launched in the event of any human rights violations in these societies. Un­democratic regimes are less transparent and therefore far more prone to human rights abuses.
The quality of human rights is also gravely affected by stark imbalances and distortions in global development, both within and, especially, between rich and not-so-rich countries of the world. These imbalances deny equal opportunities, which is an essential condition for the fulfillment ofhuman rights, for a large section of the world’s population. In their worst manifestation, these condemn hundreds of millions of the poorest people on earth to live in condition of extreme want, devoid of any human dignity. For example.
• Is it surprising that the largest number of disabled persons in the world are poor!
Isn’t it a fact that the largest number of people affected by the disastrous spread of HIV/AIDS are poor?
• Is it difficult to know why almost all the trafficking in women and children is targeted at poor families?
These instances show that poverty is a major denial of human rights. It should therefore, be our endeavour to deny poverty continued existence in the 21stcentury. For this, the deep develop­mental divide at the global and national levels must be bridged. This no doubt places definite responsibilities on individual governments in our region and elsewhere in the developing world. However, a far bigger responsibility for bridging the development divide rests on the industrialised nations of the world.
Unfortunately, the debate on human rights is often distorted by those who take a narrow and non-historical view of the matter. There are some who think that the idea of human rights is a foreign import into the Asia-Pacific region. They, therefore, arrogate to themselves the task of lecturing to developing countries on how we should promote human rights. Sometimes, this takes the form of interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.
It can also take the form of patronising advice on how we need to make cultural adjustments to conform to world human rights standards. The recent debates on ‘Asian values’ illustrate an assumption that the cultural heritage of oriental civilisation is in­compatible with today’s accepted code of human rights practices. We should reject such motivated theories.
There are also those who view human rights in the narrow sense of the functioning—or rather, individual instances of mal­functioning—of certain organs of the state in relation to individual citizens or groups. In a civilized and law-governed society, there cannot be any justification for excesses and injustice perpetrated by the very State machinery whose duty it is to uphold justice. Without accountability, agencies of the State can misuse their authority and infringe the rights of citizens, especially those who are poor and weak.
Incidents of this nature must be checked and the guilty brought to book. As I have already mentioned, democracies have in-built systems to ensure this.
By the very nature of their transparency, violations of human rights are also more easily detected and highlighted in democratic polities. Human rights activists and institutions have to remain far more alert about the abuses—and even atrocities—which are committed in undemocratic or superficially democratic societies.
However, the domain of human rights does not begin and end with such incidents. It covers a whole range of issues of social and economic development, political rights, entitlement to clean envi­ronment, and preservation of cultural identities.
The debate on human rights either in the global context, or in the context of the Asia-Pacific region, would be grievously incom­plete without serious consideration of the threat posed by terror­ism. All forms of terrorism are dangerous, but the one that is inspired by religious extremism is especially lethal.
Both the world and our region have witnessed a spurt in terrorist attacks in recent times. Our hearts go out to the nearly 200 innocent persons who died in the bomb blasts in the tranquil island of Bali in Indonesia.
I have just returned from a summit meeting with ASEAN countries in Cambodia. Terrorism was one of the main subjects of discussion at the summit.
Perhaps no country in the world has suffered the depreda­tions of international terrorism as much as India has, and for so long a time as we have. In the past two decades, nearly 60,000 people have been killed in acts of terrorism in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere in our country. It baffles us when the killing of innocent men, women and children is justified in some quarters as “freedom struggle”.
I do not need to elaborate on the resolutions of the United Nations, which have called all “acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” as “activities aimed at the destruction of human rights.” They have rej ected justification of terrorism for whatever consideration—political, philosophical, ideo­logical, racial, ethnic or religious. Further, they have specifically prohibited any member country to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities in another country, through financing, training, organising, sending men and weapons for executing such attacks.
Transparency and Accountability—Test of Good Governance
(Excerpts from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Selected Speeches Book, Vol-II, Publication Division.)
I AM HAPPY to be with you this morning to inaugurate your conference. I have been associated, in some form or the other, with your work for as long as I have been a Parliamentarian. I know how critical is the work that you do.
Transparency and accountability are the test of good governance. Not only do they ensure the efficacy of the activities and programmes of the government, but they also establish its credibility in the eyes of those who elect it. Credibility is as important for the moral legitimacy of the government as majority support is for its political legitimacy.
Indian democracy has therefore, created a strong institutional framework for adherence to the norms of transparency and accountability. Keeping track of where and how—the government has spent the taxpayers' money, is among the most important duties of legislators.
The legislature cannot perform this Constitutional role without the efforts of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and all those who work under him, especially the Accountants General of the states.
It is their painstaking work, done without fanfare, that tells MLAs and MPs whether the money that they had voted for was spent for the purpose that it was voted for. I congratulate the community of Accountants General—both present and past—for their distinguished service to the Nation.
We expect the Accountants General to implement the national motto "Satyameva Jayate". The pursuit of truth without fear and favour, without consideration for person or office, is the reason why the founding fathers of our Constitution established this office as a statutory entity. They also made it independent from the executive, so that it could perform its role without any pressure or interference.
I have been the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament twice. I know what a difficult job it is to scrutinize the central government's expenditure that is now running into hundreds of thousands of crores.
The Accountants General of the states have an even more difficult job. They have to record both the revenue and the expenditure of the state government. And they work in conditions not always conducive to efficiency. I am sure that this conference will be discussing ways and means to improve the efficiency of their work.
I would like to use this opportunity to share my thoughts on how to better achieve the objectives of a public audit. An audit is always a post-mortem—in that it is undertaken after the expenditure has been incurred.
Yet, it enables the government and, also, the public to learn from how the money was spent, assess the outcome against the targets, and fix responsibility for those who misused taxpayers' money.
Therefore, after the audit report is prepared, it is placed before Parliament or state legislatures. It is followed by an action taken note by the concerned government on.
However, experience shows that in India this does not achieve the desired results. Governments do not always place all the records before the auditors, despite the relevant law stating that the auditors shall have access to whatever they want.
Some state governments delay tabling the CAG's report for many months. As a result, there is little interest and, I may add, time left for MLAs to discuss a document that pertains to expenditure incurred many months ago. Until it is tabled, it cannot be released to the public or the press.
The Public Accounts Committee often finds it difficult to go through in detail all the reports that it gets. The Public Accounts Committee can only recommend remedial action to the government. Acceptance and implementation of the recommendation is the prerogative of the government.
Consequently, the financial control that the legislature is supposed to exercise over the executive is weak. This results in an increasing number of scams and other examples of misuse of government money.
Those who perpetrate them know that first, they are not likely to be caught; and, even if they are, unless it is a large amount, it will simply be buried in one of the paragraphs of a report that is not always read and acted upon.
The serious flaws of omission and commission in the use of public resources are the main reason why developmental projects—especially those in the social sector—have failed to deliver the expected results.
This has to change. My government is committed to improved adherence of the tenets of transparency and accountability in all the ministries and departments. We have to ensure that every information that the government auditors call for must be provided at the earliest.
Expenditure management in government has suffered for too long on account of a narrow and unthinking obsession with mechanical book balancing. I believe that the efficacy of public expenditure should be measured by the public good that it produces or fails to produce.
Public audit should, therefore, be output-driven rather than purely input-oriented. This will also help in better personnel assessment, enabling the government to reward high- performers and penalize gross under-performers.
Rules and procedures of public audit have to keep pace with the changes in the economy with the advent of liberalization.
Many government-owned organizations in the productive sector of the economy have to compete with their counterparts in the private sector. The two cannot be governed by fundamentally different audit regimes.
In rapidly changing market conditions, what makes the difference between success and failure is the ability to take the right decision and, also, the speed of decision making.
Inflexibility of procedures and lack of functional independence in the public sector would therefore, place it at a clear disadvantage over the private sector. I believe this to be an important area of PSU reforms that brook no delay.
As we approach the next century, I believe it is the strength of our institutions that will protect us from the highly competitive times in which we live. I for one have full faith in our institutions and have always tried to foster them.
With these words, I inaugurate the 20th Conference of the Accountants General.
कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'विकसित अर्थव्यवस्था की ओर निर्णायक दौर-अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी'-पुस्तक से, प्रकाशन विभाग. 

कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड-3' पुस्तक से, प्रकाशन विभाग.

कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'नये विश्व की ओर निर्णायक दौर-अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी-पुस्तक से, प्रकाशन विभाग

कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड-3 पुस्तक सेप्रकाशन विभाग

कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड-1 पुस्तक से,प्रकाशन विभाग 

        कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड- पुस्तक से

    कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड-2 पुस्तक से

    कुछ पंक्तियाँ नये विश्व की ओर निर्णायक दौर-अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी-पुस्तक से
    कुछ पंक्तियाँ नये विश्व की ओर निर्णायक दौर-अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी-पुस्तक से

     कुछ पंक्तियाँ 'प्रधानमंत्री अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी- चुने हुए भाषण-खंड-3 पुस्तक से 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee : An apostle of peace - humanity personified 
A 28-year old Dhoti-Kurta clad young man was jostling to push his blanket-wrapped baggage into the unreserved compartment of a passenger train at Delhi Railway station on May 8, 1953.
The scene was a send off to Dr. Syma Prasad Moookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (predecessor of the present day Bharatiya Janata Party), on a mission to enter Jammu & Kashmir defying the entry-permit order of the government & demanding full integration of the state into the Indian Union.
On the call of duty was a journalist-turned hitherto unfamiliar political secretary to Dr. Mookerjee and his name was Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Dr. Mookerjee was arrested on May 10, 1953 on the J&K border while entering the state refusing to obtain an entry-permit and was taken to Srinagar jail.
He sent his aide Vajpayee back to Delhi with a message for the party rank and file to continue the agitation against what he then termed as:
Ek desh mein Do Vidhan, Do Pradhan, and Do Nishan Nahin Chalenge “(in one country there can’t be two constitutions, two prime ministers & two flags).
Dr. Mookerjee died under mysterious circumstances while in custody in Srinagar on June 23, 1953. And young Vajpayee, with his oratorical eloquence relentlessly went on to spread his political mentor’s message across the country and made an indelible mark as a debutant on the political scene of independent India.
Atalji entered the Lok Sabha from Balrampur in UP in the second general elections in 1957 and his maiden speech earned him laurels from many contemporary veteran parliamentarians, including the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who, while introducing Vajpayee to a visiting foreign dignitary once said “ this young man one day will become the country’s prime minister”.
Atalji was unsparing in his criticism of Nehru in the Rajya Sabha when National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah was released from house-arrest in Delhi on April 8, 1964 and was allowed to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
But the same Vajpayee paid glowing tributes to the departed prime minister in the upper house when Nehru died on May 27, 1964. Respect for political adversaries has always been a unique feature of Vajpayee’s multi-faceted personality.
Vajpayee remained a member of parliament for 47 years, eleven time elected to the Lok Sabha, and twice to the Rajya Sabha. But the issue of Jammu & Kashmir always remained foremost in his mind. He was a staunch critic of Nehru’s Jammu & Kashmir policy. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh for six consecutive terms.
A poet by heart, Atalji articulated poetry as one of the means of expressing himself in any given situation. He would often recite one of his poems during the course of his speeches to convey his message for the occasion and enthral his audience.
Atalji inherited this talent from his father Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and practiced poetry writing and recitation since childhood by accompanying him at Kavi Sammelans in the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior where he was born in a middle class family of a school teacher.
Compilation of his poetry titled “Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein” has been very popular. Famous film producer Yash Chopra directed an album “Antarnaad” based on some of Atal ji’s classic poems which were composed byGhazal maestro Jagjit Singh with super star Shahrukh Khan articulating the theme.
One of his poems on Jammu & Kashmir “Mastak Nahi Jhukega” sums up India’s position on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir.
As external affairs minister in the 1977 Janata Party government, Vajpayee pursued the policy of friendly relations with India’s neighbours, including Pakistan, on the principle of peaceful co-existence & mutual respect.  His famous quote “you can change friends but not your neighbours” went on to become a dictum in the Indian foreign office establishment.
Resolving all the outstanding  issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu & Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner through bilateral dialogue without any third party intervention was Vajpayee’s Mantra when he became the prime minister, first for 13 days in 1996, then for 13 months in 1998 and again for a full five-year term in 1999.
The successful nuclear test “Operation Shakti” in Pokhran on May 13, 1998, was Atal ji’s strategic master stroke which he defended as a “deterrent” rather than a weapon of mass destruction. He put India in the league of the world’s elite nuclear club yet announced moratorium on future testing.
 He carried his message of peace to Pakistan during a bus journey to Lahore on February 19, 1999.
Vajpayee made it a point to visit to Minar-e-Pakistan where he re-affirmed India’s commitment to the existence of Pakistan.
He reached out to the people of Pakistan in a passionate speech at the governor’s house in Lahore telecast live both in Pakistan & India.
Atalji extended a hand of friendship on the basis of reciprocity and mutual trust and called for collective fight against poverty in the Indian subcontinent devoid of terrorism and drug-trafficking.
Vajpayee’s emotional speech from the bottom of his heart made Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to comment “Vajpayee Saheb, ab to aap Pakistan mein bhi election jeet sakte haein (Mr. Vajpayee now you can win elections even in Pakistan)
Vajpayee also signed a Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999, wherein Pakistan agreed to resolve all bilateral issues between the two countries, including the issue of Jammu & Kashmir in a peaceful manner and through dialogue and to promote people to people contact.
The Delhi–Lahore Bus Service Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier) was launched as a symbol of the efforts of the Vajpayee government to promote peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan on the basis of reciprocity.
Atalji did now allow the bus service to be terminated even when Pakistan army chief Parvez Musharraf launched an attack in Kargil between May & July, 1999, which the Indian armed forces successfully repulsed forcing the Pakistani army to vacate the occupied hills in the region.
However, the service had to be suspended during the heightened tension between the two neighbours in the aftermath of the Pakistan-ISI sponsored terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. It was restored on July 16, 2003 when Pakistan assured the Indian government as well as the international community that Islamabad would not allow its territory to be used for terrorists’ activities.
There have been many ups and downs in the Indo-Pak relations in the last more than fifteen years but the Delhi-Lahore bus remains a symbol of the desire of the people of two countries to maintain people-to-people contacts.
Atal Ji’s doctrine of peace, progress and prosperity in  Jammu & Kashmir in the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity) , Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir) was universally acclaimed by all segments across political spectrum in the state, including the extremist elements in the valley and perhaps the Kashmiris across the Line of Control (LOC) in the Pak-occupied Kashmir.
All the setbacks to his dialogue initiatives, including Kargil conflict, high- jacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandhar and terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, notwithstanding, Vajpayee did not allow the peace process to derail despite serious provocations by the Pakistan army and the ISI.
His NDA government continued to encourage confidence building measures and people-to-people contact in the larger interest of peace and tranquility in the sub-continent, an essential ingredient of progress and development of the region where one-third of the population lives below the poverty line.
And now the NDA-2 under the stewardship of India’s most popular and dynamic leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked upon the mission of accomplishing the unfinished agenda of Vajpayee for a terrorism-free prosperous South Asia.
Prime Minister Modi picking up the thread where Vajpayee had left in matters of India’s pro-active policy of improving relations with all immediate neighbours was on display at the very outset of the NDA-2 when heads of all the SAARC member countries were invited to witness Narendra Bhai’s swearing –in-ceremony at the forecourt of majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan in Lutyens Delhi.
Later he chose Bhutan and Nepal for his maiden foreign visits as prime minister in the SARC spirit.
Narenda Modi, who has always held Vajpayee in highest esteem and considered him his role model, never misses a chance to eulogize the larger-than-life towering personality of this living legend.
Speaking in the central hall of parliament on the historic occasion of his unanimous election as leader of the newly elected BJP parliamentary party on May 20, 2014, Narandra Modi didn’t forget to remember Vajpayee when he said  “ Yadi Atalji ka swasthay anumati deta aur woh aaj hamare beech hotein to sone par suhaga hota “ ( if Atal ji’s health permitted and he would have been present here, it would have been like the icing on the cake) .
Prime Minister Modi too has demonstrated his deep affection for the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and has paid several visits to all the three region in a short span of six months.
During his election rallies in the state, Narendra Modi promised to the people that his government would fulfil the dream of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and bring peace and prosperity in the state based on “ Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat aur Kashmiriyat” ( Humanity, democracy & Identity of the people of Kashmir).
Modi, during his visits to the state, always mentioned that Atalji through his three-point Kashmir-doctrine had made a special place in the hearts of Kashmiris and ignited hope in every Kashmiri youth for a better future.
"Our Mantra is only development, development and development," he said, adding "I will return your trust in me with interest by ensuring full fledged development in J&K."
Prime Minister Modi has assured the state , "It is my wish and I will come here again & again to fulfil Atalji’s dream”
The Narendra Modi government’s decision to observe Atalji’s 90th birth day on December 25 as “Good Governance Day” is perhaps the most befitting tribute the younger generation of his party could pay to its friend, philosopher & guide over the last so many decades.
The media reports that Prime Minister Modi will be announcing Bharat Ratna for Atalji on his birthday have been welcomed by political leaders across the party lines.  Perhaps it has been long overdue.
* Sh. Ashok Tandon is Senior Journalist
अटल जी ने कहा - मेरी आस्‍था भारत 
अटल जी के बारे लिखना उतना ही कठिन है जैसे गंगा की बहती धारा का वर्णन प्राय: शब्‍दातीत हो जाता है। कठोर होते हुए भी मृदुल, प्रतिपक्षी की आक्रामकता सहेजते हुए भी संबंधों में मैत्री की शालीनता, कठोर प्रहार करते हुए शब्‍द संयम और वाणी में सौम्‍यता, ऊँचाई होते हुए भी हरी दूब सी विनम्रता अटल जी को बस अटल जी बनाने वाले गुण हैं। बड़ी बात है कि उनका मन बड़ा है। उनका मनपसंद वाक्‍य अक्‍सर सुनने में आता है - 'मतभेद रखो मनभेद  नहीं'। उनके साथ बहुत लंबे अरसे तक मिलने, बैठने और यात्राएं करने का अवसर मिला। उनमें सुनने का जितना अद्भूत धैर्य है वैसा शायद ही किसी और में हो। जब भी मिलने गया, अत्‍यंत व्‍यस्‍तता में भी उन्‍होंने कभी यह एहसास नहीं होने दिया कि अपनी कहना बंद करो, अब मुझे जाना है। वे अपनी बात कहने आए व्‍यक्‍ति को इस बात का  अपार संतोष धन देते थे कि अटल जी ने मेरी बात सुन ली। आज संगठनों और समाज के विभिन्‍न क्षेत्रों में सबसे बड़ी पीड़ा और वेदना इसी बात की है कि सब सुनाने वाले मिलते हैं, सुनने वाले नहीं। मैंने एक बार अटल जी से कहा कि आपके साथ दिल्‍ली से मथुरा दीनदयाल धाम तक अकेले चार घंटे सफर करने का मौका मिला। बहुत कुछ सुनाने के भाव से मैं ही बकबक करता गया और आप सुनते रहे। इतना धैर्य कहां से आया। अटल जी खूब हंसे और बोले, यह तो मन की बात है। सुनने से कुछ मिलता ही है। जो पसंद आए उसे रख लो, बाकी छोड़ दो। वे अपने घनघोर विपक्षी पर भी घनघोर व्‍यक्‍तिगत प्रहार के पक्षधर नहीं थे। हम पांचजन्‍यम में उन दिनों सोनिया जी के नेतृत्‍व में कांग्रेस की आलोचना करते हुए अक्‍सर तीखी आलोचना करते थे। ऐसे ही एक अंक को देखकर उन्‍होंने प्रधानमंत्री कार्यालय से ही फोन किया-विजय जी, नीतियों और कार्यक्रमों पर चोट करिए,व्‍यक्‍तिगत बातों को आक्षेप से बाहर रखिए। यह अच्‍छा होगा। एक बार हमने धर्मक्षेत्र कुरूक्षेत्र अंक निकाला जिसके मुखपृष्‍ठ पर काशी के डोमराजा के साथ संतों, शंकराचार्य और विश्‍व हिंदू परिषद के तत्‍कालीन अध्‍यक्ष श्री अशोक सिंहल का भोजन करते हुए चित्र छपा। अटल जी यह देखकर बहुत प्रसन्‍न हुए और कहा कि ऐसी बातों का जितना अधिक प्रचार-प्रसार हो, उतना अच्‍छा है। ऐसे कार्यक्रम और होने चाहिए लेकिन मन से होने चाहिएं, फोटो-वोटो के लिए नहीं। पांचजन्‍य के प्रथम संपादक तो थे ही, प्रथम पाठक भी थे। प्रधानमंत्री रहते हुए हमारे अंकों पर उनकी प्रतिक्रियाएं मिलती थीं । एक बार स्‍वदेशी पर केंद्रित  हमारे अंक के आवरण पर भारत माता का द्रोपदी के चीरहरण जैसा चित्र देख वे कुद्ध हुए - हमारे जीते जी ऐसा दृश्‍यांकन। हम मर गए हैं क्‍या ? संयम और शालीनता के बिना पत्रकारिता नहीं हो सकती।
     पचास के दशक के उस दौर से जब नेहरूवादी मानसिकता के कारण भिन्‍न मत के वर्ग पर एक प्रकार की वैचारिक अस्‍पृश्‍यता का प्रहार होता था और तब अटल जी के संपादकत्‍व में पांचजन्‍य,राष्‍ट्रधर्म, स्‍वदेश, हिंदुस्‍तान जैसे पत्र निकले। वे संघर्ष के दिन थे। पंडित दीनदयाल उपाध्‍याय जी के साथ कठिनाइयों में भी वे खूब मेहनत से काम करते। तब उन्‍होंने लिखा।
बाधाएं आती हैं आएं, घिरे प्रलय की घोर घटाएं
पावों के नीचे अंगारे, सिर पर बरसें यदि ज्‍वालाएं
निज हाथों में हंसते-हंसते, आग लगाकर जलना होगा
कदम मिलाकर चलना होगा।

जब वे सरकार के पहले दौर में 13 दिन के लिए प्रधानमंत्री बने तो मैंने उनसे कहा कि सरकार सब तरह की यात्राओं को मदद देती है, कैलास-मानसरोवर यात्रा को भी सरकार की सहायता मिलनी चाहिए। उन्‍होंने कहा तुम तुरंत पत्र लिखो, मैं कुछ करता हूं। मैंने अपना हस्‍तलिखित आवेदन ही संपूर्ण पृष्‍ठभूमि  समझाते हुए दे दिया। तब उनके प्रमुख सचिव श्री बिशन टंडन थे। वह पत्र उस समय लोक सभा में भेजा गया जब अटल जी इस्‍तीफा देने वाले थे। वहीं से उन्‍होंने हस्‍ताक्षर करके वह अनुदान स्‍वीकृत करवाया जो अभी तक चल रहा है और उसके बाद अनेक राज्‍य सरकारों ने भी अनुदान प्रारंभ किए ।
     जब वे दोबारा प्रधानमंत्री बने तो अधिक आत्‍मविश्‍वास के साथ कठोर निर्णय भी लेने में हिचकिचाए नहीं। पोकरन-2 का विस्‍फोट ऐसा ही चमत्‍कारिक क्षण था। अमेरिका जैसा तथाकथित सर्वशक्‍तिशाली देश भी भौचक्‍का और हैरान रह गया। दुनिया भर से प्रतिबंध लगने पर अटल जी ने परवाह नहीं की। अमेरिका से सुपर कंप्‍यूटर नहीं मिला तो महान वैज्ञानिक विजय भाटकर को प्रोत्‍साहित कर भारत में ही सुपर कंप्‍यूटर बनवाया। क्रायोजेनिक इंजन नहीं मिला तो भारत में ही उसका विकास किया।
     कारगिल में पाकिस्‍तान को करारी शिकस्‍त देने के बाद भी आगरा शिखर वार्ता उनके आत्‍मविश्‍वास का ही घोतक थी। सूचना प्रौद्योगिकी में क्रांति, मोबाइल, टेलीफोन को सस्‍ता बनाकर घर-घर पहुंचाना, भारत के और-छोर स्‍वर्णिम चतुर्भुज राजमार्गों से जोड़ना और हथियारों के मामले में भारत को अधिक सैन्‍य सक्षम बनाना अटल जी की वीरता एवं विकास केंद्रित नीति के शानदार परिचय हैं। वे अंतिम व्‍यक्‍ति की गरीबी को दूर करने के लिए बेहद चिंतित रहते थे। पंडित दीनदयाल उपाध्‍याय जी एकात्‍म मानववाद और गांधी चिंतन में उनकी गहरी श्रद्धा थी इसीलिए भाजपा निर्माण के बाद उन्‍होंने गांधीवादी समाजवाद को अपनाया।
     अटल जी का व्‍यक्‍तित्‍व एक ऐसे स्‍वयंसेवक के पुण्‍य प्रवाह का प्रतिबंब है जिसकी कलम न लिखा था 'गगन में लहराता है भगवा हमारा' रग-रग हिंदू मेरा परिचय और केशव के आजीवन तप की यह पवित्रतम धारा...साठ सहस ही तरेगा इससे भारत सारा। 'हिरोशिमा की वेदना' और 'मनाली मत जहयो' उनके कवि हृदय की वेदना एवं उछाह दर्शाते हैं तो एक समय ऐसा भी आया जब दु:ख व कष्‍टों ने घेरा। अपनों की मार से हुई व्‍यथा ने उन्‍हें झकझोरा, पर वे टूटे नहीं। तार तोड़े नहीं।
     1994 में रज्‍जू भैया ने आग्रहपूर्वक मेरी पुस्‍तक 'कैलास मानसरोवर यात्रा- साक्षात शिव से संवाद' का प्रकाशन करवाया। फिर कहा-इसका उद्घाटन समारोह करें -अटल जी से करवाओ। मैं अटल जी के पास गया तो वे बोले हम तो हैं ही। कर ही देंगे। रज्‍जू भैया ने कहा है। पर मेरी राय है ऐसे समारोहों में उन्‍हें भी साथ जोड़ना चाहिए जो साथ में न होते हुए भी विद्धान और राष्‍ट्रभक्‍त है। मैंने कहा, कैसे ? उन्‍होंने अपने चिर-परिचित क्षणिक ठहराव के बाद कहा-डॉ. कर्ण सिंह। उन्‍हें बुलाइए। मैंने कहा मेरा उनसे परिचय नहीं। उन्‍होंने फोन उठाया, सहायक से कर्ण सिंह से बात करने को कहा - बात की और डॉ. कर्णसिंह को पुस्‍तक लोकापर्ण के लिए स्‍वयं आमंत्रित किया।
     2007 की बात है। उनका स्‍वास्‍थ्‍य कुछ ठीक नहीं, पता चलने पर मैंने फोन किया। एक क्षण के सुपरिचित मौन के बाद वे बोले, 'देह धरन को दंड है' सब काहू को होय । ज्ञानी भुगते ज्ञान से, मूरख भुगते रोय', और यह कहकर हंस पड़े।
     मैंने पूछा, अटल जी ये किसकी पंक्‍तियां हैं। बोले पता नहीं, पर मेरे पिता जी कृष्‍ण बिहारी बाजपेयी सुनाया करते थे। इसलिए शरीर के कष्‍टों पर दु:खी नहीं होना चाहिए।
     हमने 1996 से लेह में सिंधु दर्शन प्रारंभ किया था। आडवाणी जी का वरदहस्‍त था। साहिब सिंह वर्मा जी का उत्‍साहवर्द्धक सहयोग तो था ही, रज्‍जू भैया और हो.वे. शेषाद्रि जी का संरक्षण बहुत बड़ा सम्‍बल था। हम संकोच से अटल जी से सिंधु दर्श के उद्घाटन हेतु कहने में हिचकते थे। एक बार उनका फोन आया, 'विजय जी, सिंधु दर्शन अकेले ही करेंगे? हमें न्‍योता नहीं मिला। उनका उलाहना हमें भिगो गया। वर्ष 2001 में उन्‍होंने सिंधु दर्शन अभियान का उद्घाटन किया और हृदय को रोमांचित करने वाला उद्बोधन दिया- इस उत्‍सव ने राष्‍ट्रगान के अधूरेपन को भर दिया है।'                   
     सभ्यता और संस्कृति के बारे में उन्होंने बहुत बात कही, ‘सभ्यता कलेवर है संस्कृति उसका अंतरंग। सभ्यता स्थूल होती है संस्कृति सूक्ष्म। समय के साथ सभ्यता बदलती है,  क्योंकि उसका संबंध भौतिक जीवन से होता है। किंतु उसकी तुलना में संस्कृति मुख्य रूप से आंतरिक जगत से जुड़ी होने के कारण अधिक स्‍थायी होती है। जब यह कहा जाता है कि रोम मिस्‍त्र यूनान की सभ्‍यताएं नष्‍ट हो गई तो निस्‍संदेह उसमें उनके स्‍थूल जीवन का ही नहीं, उनके जीवन मूल्‍यों का भी समावेश होता है।‘’
     जिस समय काफी तीव्रता से 'गर्व से कहो हम हिन्‍दू हैंका वातावरण बना तो मैंने उनसे एक साक्षात्‍कार किया जो बहुत चर्चित हुआ। उन्‍होंने बेलाग कहा – ‘यदि हिंदुत्‍व के प्रति गर्व प्रतिक्रिया में उत्‍पन्‍न हुआ है तो यह भी कोई बहुत स्‍वस्‍थ स्थिति नहीं है। यदि लोग इस प्रतिक्रिया में हिंदू हो रहे हैं तो दूसरे लोग प्रतिक्रिया में और भी कट्टर होंगे। विधायक तत्‍वों के आधार पर ही वर्तमान की दुविधा को हल करने की कोशिश होनी चाहिए। भारत में हिंदू बहुसंख्‍या में हैंइसलिए हमारा दायित्‍व भी अधिक है। गर्व से कहो हम भारतीय हैंकहने में क्‍या आपत्ति है ?’
     इस वर्ष प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्‍द्र मोदी ने अटल जी के जन्‍मदिन को सुशासन दिवस के रूप में मनाने का निर्णय किया है। सुशासन पर अटल जी ने एक साक्षात्‍कार में कहा था – ‘देश के अच्‍छे शासन की जरूरत है। शासन अपने प्राथमिक कर्तव्‍यों का पालन करेहर नागरिक को बिना किसी भेदभाव के सुरक्षा देउसके लिए शिक्षा, उपचार और आवास का प्रबंध करे इसकी बड़ी आवश्‍यकता है। पिछले 50 साल में यह कार्य जिस गति से होना चाहिए था,  नहीं हुआ। लोग अच्‍छी सरकार भी चाहते हैं और स्‍वच्‍छ सरकार भी चाहते हैं। जहां मजबूती और कठोरता की आवश्‍यकता होगीवहां हमारी सरकार मजबूती दिखाएगी और समझा-बुझाकर समस्‍याओं के समाधान निकालना संभव हो तो वहां उस दिशा में प्रयत्‍न किए जाएंगे।
     यह हमारी राष्‍ट्रीयता का ही अंग है कि हम एक ऐसा देश बनाना चाहते हैं जिसमें दैहिक, दैविक भौतिक तापा रामराज काहू नहीं व्‍यापा  की बात फलीभूत हो। खाद्य के क्षेत्र में सुरक्षा भी हमारी बहुत बड़ी उपलब्धि है। अब कहीं कोई भुखमरी का शिकार नहीं होता। अंत्‍योदय के अंतर्गत दो रुपए किलो गेहूं और तीन रुपए किलो चावल देते हैं। लेकिन अब तो हाल यह है कि लेने वाले नहीं मिलते। हालात सुधर रहे हैं।
     अटल जी बस अटल जी हैं। अनुपमेय। आज के वातावरण में व्‍याप्‍त राजनीतिक कलुष में उनकी बातें सबको बहुत याद आती हैं। ये सत्‍य ही वर्तमान युग के अजातशत्रु हैं। जिन्‍होंने भारत की आराधना की। इसलिए वे कह सके ‘’मेरी आस्‍था – भारत’’
     अटल जी दीर्घायु हों। उनका जीवन शतशत वसंतों की उत्‍सवी गंध से सुवासित रहे। वे भारत के राष्‍ट्रीय नेतृत्‍व का मानक बने हैं। यह मानक भारत को उजाला दे।
(साक्षात्‍कार के अंशपांचजन्‍य में प्रकाशित आलेखों के संग्र‍ह – अटल बिहारी बाजपेयी – मेरी आस्‍था भारत से साभार)
तरुण विजय राज्‍यसभा के सदस्‍य हैं
मध्यमार्ग के शीर्ष पुरूष ‘अटल’ 
अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी ने अपनी एक प्रसिद्ध कविता में ईश्वर से प्रार्थना की है कि वह उन्हें इतनी ऊंचाई पर न पहुंचाए जिससे कि वे सबसे दूर हो जाएं। प्रार्थना के विपरीत उन्हें एक सर्वस्वीकार्य राष्ट्र पुरुष जैसी ऊंचाई मिली। उनका यह सोच निराधार साबित हुई और वह इतनी ऊंचाई पाकर भी कहीं भारतीय जनमानस से दूर नहीं हुए। आधी शताब्दी से भी अधिक के सार्वजनिक जीवन के किसी कालखंड में वह भारतीय लोकजीवन से अलग नहीं हुए। जनमानस को समझने का शायद उन्हें कभी अलग से प्रयास नहीं करना पड़ा। उनकी यही अद्भुत क्षमता उनके व्यक्तित्व की सबसे बड़ी विशेषता रही है। भारतीय समाज से उनका संवाद सहज और स्वतः स्फूर्त था। ऐसा उनका निजी पृष्ठभूमि के कारण भी था। जिसने बाद में उनके सार्वजनिक जीवन में भी योगदान दिया। सांगठनिक और राजनीतिक कार्यों से लगातार भ्रमण करते रहने में उनका बड़ा समय निकला। कभी पदयात्रा, कभी साइकिल यात्रा तो कभी मोटर साइकिल यात्रा और फिर दूसरे साधन से जुड़ते दिन बदलते रहे, स्थान बदलते रहे, मौसम और वर्ष बीते। यहां तक कि दशक बीते। लेकिन दौरों, जनसम्पर्क और जनसभाओं का क्रम चलता रहा। चरैवेति-चरैवेति ‘ की इसी जीवनचर्या ने उन्हें भारतीय जनमानस से एकाकार कर दिया। यह कहना चाहिए कि उन्हें भारतीय समाज को अलग से समझने की आवश्यकता नहीं पड़ी। यह उनके सोच व स्वाभाव में समाहित हो गया।
उनके द्वारा पुष्पित-पल्लवित पौधा अब विशाल बट-वृक्ष बन गया है। यह स्वाभाविक है कि संघर्ष की लंबी अग्नि परीक्षा को भुला दिया जाए। आज के अटल जी इसी संघर्ष की देन हैं। यह भी इनकी अद्वितीय पहचान है। प्रमाण यह है कि जब उनके संगठन की संसदीय शक्ति नगण्य थी उस समय भी उनका व्यक्तित्व राष्ट्रीय नेतृत्व की अग्रिम पंक्ति में स्थापित हो चुका था। 1974 में उत्तर प्रदेश विधानसभा चुनाव में पार्टी ने मुख्यमंत्री के तौर पर उन्हें आगे बढ़ाया। उस समय दल बहुत कमजोर स्थिति में था। उसके बाद भी कार्यकर्ताओं, मतदाताओं को ऐसा लगता था कि सीएम पद वाजपेयी जैसे व्यक्ति के लिए छोटा है। इसीलिए पार्टी को इस घोषणा का लाभ नहीं मिला। स्थिति यह थी कि जहां संगठन का आधार नगण्य था, वहां भी उनकी जनसभा में अपार उत्साह दिखता था। उस समय यह एक नियम बन गया था कि निर्धारित समय से दो तीन घंटे बाद उनका भाषण कराया जाता। आयोजक यह मानते थे कि अटल जी के भाषण को सुने बिना कोई नहीं जाएगा।
भारतीय समाज के मौलिक संस्कार को अटल जी ने बहुत सटीक तरीके से समझा और उसे अपने जीवन में उतारा भी। राजनीति में हिंसक टकरावों के दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण दौर भी आए। लेकिन भारतीय समाज की समन्वयवादी शांति प्रिय सोच पर अटल जी की आधारभूत आस्था हमेशा अटल ही रही। उन्होंने अराजकता के ऐसे सभी निराशाजनक प्रसंगों में दृढ़ता से कहा कि भारतीय समाज इस हिंसक, विभाजक राजनीति को लंबे समय तक स्वीकार नहीं करेगा। अटल जी मन से मानते रहे कि राजनीति से विग्रह, विवाद और विभाजन को अलग नहीं किया जा सकता। लेकिन अंततः समन्वय, संवाद और सहमति से समाधान संभव होगा। यह संदर्भ उन्होंने बार बार उजागर किया है। अटल जी के अनुसार समस्या के समाधान की यही भारतीय पद्धति है, जनतंत्र की मूल भावना भी यही है। संसदीय प्रणाली में इसकी आवश्यकता और बढ़ जाती है क्योंकि इस प्रणाली में एक ही संसद या विधानसभा में सरकारी दल व विरोधी दल सरकार में आते जाते रहते हैं। दलों के बीच समीकरण बनते बिगड़ते रहते हैं। इसलिए हमारी राजनीति में संवाद और समन्वय समुचित स्थान मिलना चाहिए। दलों की दीवार को दिलों की दीवार नहीं बनने देना चाहिए। वाजपेयी ने समन्वय की इस राजनीति को राष्ट्र नीति के स्तर तक पहुंचाया, क्योंकि उनका व्यक्तित्व एक पारदर्शी, निश्चछलतापूर्ण और गहन गंभीरता से भरा हुआ रहा। इसी कारण संसद में शायद ही कभी ऐसा हुआ हो कि उनके खड़े होने या संबोधन के बीच में विरोधियों ने कोई बड़ा व्यवधान खड़ा किया हो।
अट्ठाइस दलों की सरकार चलाना और पहली गैर कांग्रेसी सरकार के रूप में कार्यकाल पूरा करने वाले पहले और अभी तक आखिरी प्रधानमंत्री वही हैं। अटल जी ने सद्भाव, संवाद, समन्वय की राजनीति को शिखर पर जरूर पहुंचाया। लेकिन इसका यह अर्थ कतई नहीं है कि उन्होंने कठोर निर्णय लेने में कभी कोई संकोच किया हो। बाहरी तौर पर यह जरूर दिखता था कि वे अपने संगठन और सरकार के नियंत्रण में कोई विशेष रुचि नहीं लेते हैं। लेकिन आवश्यकता पड़ने पर वह हस्तक्षेप करते थे और उनका हस्तक्षेप ही निर्णायक होता था। वह कोमल हृदय हैं लेकिन कमजोर नहीं। शायद यही वजह है कि उनकी इसी विशिष्ट कार्यशैली के कारण कभी उनके मंत्रियों पर भ्रष्टाचार का कोई बड़ा आरोप नहीं लगा। संगठन में भी सबको मालूम था कि रोजमर्रा के कामों में वह हस्तक्षेप नहीं करेंगे। और जब करेंगे तो वह अंतिम होगा। ऐसे प्रसंगों की भरमार है कि जब उन्होंने एक दो पंक्तियों में ही अपनी बात कह दी और पूरे संगठन को उनके आदेश का अनुसरण करना पड़ा। 1980 में भाजपा को जनसंघ से अलग करने और उसके सांगठनिक ढांचे को बनाने का निर्णय साधारण नहीं था। शुरु में उसका परिणाम भले ही अच्छा न रहा हो। लेकिन बाद में यह प्रयोग सफल रहा। इसी तरह 1999  में तेरह महीने की सरकार को बचाने की कोशिश न करके अपने दृढ़ संकल्प और दूरदर्शिता का परिचय दिया। नए चुनाव के नतीजों ने उन्हें फिर से पूरे कार्यकाल तक सरकार चलाने का मौका दिया।
अटल जी की यह नीति अंतरराष्ट्रीय संबंधों में उनके शांति प्रयासों से भी दिखाई देती है। प्रधानमंत्री के तौर पर उनके प्रयासों की पर्याप्त चर्चा भी हुई। उन्होंने जनता पार्टी की सरकार के विदेश मंत्री की भूमिका में अपनी इसी नीति पर काम किया। यही सोच उनकी लाहौर बस यात्रा के दौरान भी दिखी। इतना ही नहीं अलगाववादियों को इंसानियत की सीमा में वार्ता करने का न्यौता दिया। इस्लामिक पवित्र महीने में सैनिक कार्रवाई रोकने की एकपक्षीय घोषणा उनकी इसी सोच का नतीजा थी। उनके सद्भावपूर्ण प्रयास असफल हुए लेकिन अंतरराष्ट्रीय बिरादरी को सच्चाई भी मालूम हुई। पोखरण परमाणु परीक्षण भी ऐसा ही एक निर्णय था। परीक्षण के तुरंत बाद विदेशी दबाव खुलकर सामने आ गया, बावजूद इसके भारत ने उसका सफलता पूर्वक सामना किया। अटल जी के इसी दृढ़ संकल्प के कारण कारगिल में भारतीय सेना ने सीधी कार्रवाई कर आपरेशन पराक्रम को मूर्त रूप दिया। उन्होंने आगरा शिखर वार्ता के विफल होने की भी कभी चिंता नहीं की।
प्राचीन भारतीय चिंतक भीष्म ने राजनीति को न शीतो च घर्मदः कहा है। अर्थात नीति कभी अत्यधिक कठोर और कोमल नहीं होनी चाहिए। अटल जी का पूरा सार्वजनिक जीवन इसी मध्य मार्ग पर चला है। वे भारतीय राजनीति के शीर्ष संयोजक सेतु हैं। उनके जन्मदिन के अवसर पर हर भारतीय की यही कामना है कि वह फिर से स्वस्थ व शतायु हों।
*Shri Prashant Mishra is the Political Editor of Dainik Jagran, National Hindi Daily Newspaper.

No comments:

Extension of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme through ECLGS 2.0 for the 26 sectors identified by the Kamath Committee and the healthcare sector

Extension of the duration of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) 1.0 The Government has extended Emergency Credit Line Guarantee ...