25 December marks the Indian statesman and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 95th birth anniversary. Here are the five things to know about Vajpayee, who is known as one of country’s tallest statemen.
Fought his first election and his last from Lucknow constituency
Vajpayee, a 12-term Parliament with 10 as a Lok Sabha member, started his electoral political career by contesting in a by-election from the Lucknow constituency in 1955 when then PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, resigned. He came third then. Five decades later, in 2004, he fought his last election from the same constituency, the last in his illustrious political career.
Attended college together with his father at DAVP Kanpur
After Vajpayee secured a gold medal securing a top position in the state of madhya Pradesh during his BA at the Victoria College Gwalior, now known as the Maharani Laxmi Bai Government College of Excellence, he was offered an honorarium on the condition that he will have to take up a job with the state government. He refused and went on to study at DAV college Kanpur. His father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, too, enrolled at the same college. Father and son were classmates and shared a room. Both alternated their attendance, with father attending the day the son would be absent and son on.
Arrested for Quit India movement with brother, in jail for 27 days
Vajpayee was arrested during the Quit India movement. Along with his elder brother Prem, a 16-year-old Vajpayee went behind the bars on August 27, 1942 while taking part in a rally as part of the Quit India movement in his village of Bateshwar. They spent 24 days in jail. At that time, Vajpayee had just become a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It was only when he gave a written undertaking stating that he was not part of the militant events on that day, was Vajpayee released from jail. He wrote in his undertaking that he was part of a peaceful procession and caused no damage.
Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics: Dr Manmohan Singh
Vajpayee’s successor Dr Manmohan Singh once referred to him as the “Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics” once during a Parliament speech. In March 2008, during a debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Dr Singh sought Vajpayee’s support. “Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics Atal Bihari Vajpayee should listen to his conscience and let national interest prevail upon narrow politics,” Singh had said in the Rajya Sabha, asking Vajpayee for his support for the deal. The moniker stuck, and till the very end, political analysts compared Vajpayee to the legendary war strategist from the Mahabharat.
Four Himalayan peaks named after him
In October 2018, two months after he passed away, four mountains near the Gangotri glacier were named after Vajpayee. Located at 6557, 6566, 6160 and 6100 metres on the right side of the glacier, the peaks were named Atal 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. While making the announcement, Colonel Amit Bisht of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering said that a climbing team, led by Bisht which scaled the mountains, hoisted the Tricolour on them in his honour. The mountains are located near Sudarshan and Saifi peaks in Raktvan valley.