Atal Bihari Vajpayee may not be able to speak these days and is suffering from ill health, but very few have been able to reach his literary genius and political acumen. As Lucknow votes there is growing analysis on if BJP will make the cut this time post demonetisation and the saffron force’s talk of surgical strikes on Pakistan.
While the city votes and Atalji may not vote yet again, the popular belief as per media reports is that the Vajpayee legacy will be critical when the electorate takes its pick.
As voters lineup from early in the morning on polling day at Lucknow Central, there will be that wish to see BJP patron and old warhorse Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Voter number no 141 as he is popular in electoral rolls as, will give polling a miss.
92-year-old former Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who represented Lucknow in Lok Sabha five times became synonymous with the Land of Nawabs and Kababs.
It has been quite a while since Atal Bihari Bajpayee last voted in 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
Following this he has not voted in Assembly elections of 2007, 2012 and Lok Sabha elections of 2009 and 2014.
Vajpayee has been indisposed for years now.
Vajayee’s name is enrolled as a bonafide voter in office of the Lucknow Municipal Corporation. His voter identity card number is XGF0929877. Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha from Lucknow in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.
BJP has had a close bond with Lucknow.
Vajpayee is the first and the only non-Congress leader who completed his full term as Prime Minister.
After growing clamour for sometime came the great news in the winter of 2014 that the political stalwart who cut ice with all politicians across political affiliations will get Bharat Ratna. He got the honour with Madan Mohan Malviya.
None had ever imagined that a man who started of as the political secretary of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh will become the Prime Minister of India and be honoured with Bharat Ratna.
Call it luck by chance or a trick of destiny it was Mookherjee’s attempt to enter Jammu and Kashmir defying the entry permit of the government which led to Vajpayee’s rise. When Mookherjee got arrested for rallying, demanding full integration of the state into the union, it was Vajpayee who was ordered to carry forward the campaign on his own steam.
Mookherjee was arrested on May 10, 1953 on the J and K border while entering the state and was taken to Srinagar jail.
He sent Vajpayee back to Delhi with a message for the party rank and file to continue the agitation against what he then termed “Ek desh mein Do Vidhan, Do Pradhan, and Do Nishan Nahin Chalenge “.
After Mookherjee’s death under mysterious circumstances on June 23, 1953,
Vajpayee, with his characteristic eloquence went on to spread his political mentor’s message.
He made a great impact as a debutant politician in independent India.
Vajpayee entered the Lok Sabha from Balrampur in UP in the second general elections in 1957. His maiden speech earned him laurels from several parliamentarians, including then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
It was Nehru who predicted that one day Vajpayee will be PM.
Vajpayee remained a member of parliament for 47 years, elected 11 times to the Lok Sabha, and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
One of his poems on Jammu and Kashmir “Mastak Nahi Jhukega” sums up India’s position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
Vajpayee in his times maintained cordial relations with all of India’s neighbours, including Pakistan. His famous quote “you can change friends but not your neighbours” went on to become a dictum in the Indian foreign office establishment.
Operation Shakti in Pokhran on May 13, 1998 is often dubbed as his masterstroke.
ATAL’S UNMATCHED LEGACY IN LUCKNOW
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lucknow to this day remain inextricable entities. While Lucknow votes the Atal legacy will be a factor given the recent averments of the BJP in recent rallies.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has in his speeches and sabhas in Lucknow regularly evoked Vajpayee’s legacy.
Lucknow has some 450,000 Muslims, 350,000 Brahmins, 150,000 Vaishyas, 125,000 Kayasths, 100,000 each Yadavs and Dalits, 60,000 Thakurs and a sizeable presence of people from Uttarakhand (175,000 votes).
Developmental works worth over Rs 25,000 crore have guaranteed a new sheen to Lucknow. Most plaques display his name most projects including four to six-laned highways development, metro or memo rail concepts and projects, a web of power substations, several beautification schemes bear his stamp.