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Remarks by Minister of State for External Affairs at Virtual Unveiling of the Portrait  of Former Prime Minister late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the occasion of his 2nd death Anniversary

August 16, 2020

Hon’ble Rashtrapati ji
Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe Ji, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Member of Parliament,
Shri Dinesh K. Patnaik, Director General of ICCR,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to be present here to witness this morning a formal unveiling of the portrait of Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Born into a family of modest means and high ideals, he hailed from a small town in Madhya Pradesh. His youth was defined by academic excellence and a quest for public service right since the days of freedom struggle.

His first encounter with politics occurred in August 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement. Vajpayee ji was inclined towards journalism as he had been an activist in India’s freedom struggle since his student life. He served as an editor to publications like Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly; Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly; and dailies like Veer Arjun and Swadesh.

Known for his liberal worldview and commitment to democratic ideals, a multifaceted personality, respected by all, Vajpayee ji was a man of the masses and a guiding light for the political class.

He had the distinct honour of serving as Prime Minister thrice -- briefly in 1996, from 1998-1999 and then for a full five-year term between 1999 and 2004.

Vajpayee ji believed India to be a forward-looking, strong and prosperous nation. During his second term in Prime Minister Office, the 1998 Pokhran-II Nuclear tests and 1999 Kargil war were some of the bold steps the Vajpayee government took that changed India’s perception at the international level. His contributions to modernisation of industrial and public infrastructure, especially roads and telecom thus improving connectivity, industrial expansion, and enhanced agricultural harvests, booming IT industry and increased foreign investments were noteworthy. High international politics and diplomacy was his enduring passion. A natural grand strategist, Vajpayee’s realism was tempered by restraint, leading him to craft a pragmatic foreign policy template for India that has endured till date. Under his able leadership, India’s global stature grew and within a few years the world took cognizance of India as a major international player.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee left a lasting imprint on India’s foreign policy that he helped shape both as the first non-Congress Foreign Minister and later as Prime Minister by taking initiatives that defined India’s relations with major powers in keeping with changing geopolitics.

Our neighbours were his priority. In many ways, he was the inspiration for, and even pioneer of, our Neighbourhood First policy.

An unparalleled orator, he had a strong sense of humour and a rare ability to connect with people naturally, to stir them to self-belief and to a higher cause. Vajpayee is regarded as one of the finest poets in Hindi. His poetry reflects his deeply sensitive personality, his soaring patriotism, his concern for the plight of the common people, his commitment to democratic ideals and, above all, his humility. His collection of poems, Meri Ikkyavan Kavitayen, became a bestseller. Many of his poems have been sung by India’s illustrious singers like Lata Mangeshkar and Jagjit Singh.

Shri Vajpayee ji was a man of steel. His humble life, his love for country and his ability to dream big for the country is an inspiration to all of us.

He had a deep sense of history and a keen observer of civilisational ethos.

He will always be remembered as a true statesman, a leader and a visionary who would continue to guide us as we march ahead.

New Delhi
August 16, 2020

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