After a 9-week long struggle, India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at AIIMS in New Delhi 16 August 2018. The 93-year old political icon was suffering from kidney tract infection, urinary tract infection and even respiratory problems. In 2009, he suffered a stroke leading to loss of speech and subsequently causing dementia. Vajpayee was a monumental figure in both BJP and India’s political landscape. He was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete his five-year term.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924, to a schoolmaster from Gwalior. In 2014, the NDA government declared his birthday would be observed as the Good Governance Day. His political life started early when as a teenager he was jailed briefly for opposing British colonial rule. In 1939, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and became a full member in 1947. However, before that he did try his hand at communism.
He dropped out of law school to run an RSS magazine in the early 1950s. In 1951, he was drafted, along with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, to work with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of BJP. Vajpayee rose swiftly up the ranks and gradually, he grew as the moderate voice of the RSS and BJP.
He first became India’s Prime Minister in the year 1996. However, he couldn’t retain the same for more than 13 days due to lack of numbers. He came back to the same position in 1998 but couldn’t carry on with it for more than 13 months due to lack of a stable majority. Vajpayee was re-elected in 1999 with a more stable coalition. This was the first time a non-Congress member held the PMO for a complete term of five years.