Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death has been an irreparable loss to the nation, his unmatched skills as an orator and as a statesman should serve as lessons to the upcoming politicians. While the grief laden messages do the rounds, it is important to remind people of the greatness of the man who was much more than a politician. Here are some of the gems from his speeches in the Lok Sabha, a house which he had connection with for over 40 years before quitting active politics in 2005. Here are five of his absolute best speeches made inside the House as a leader of the opposition and as a Prime Minister.
In the wake of the nuclear tests conducted by the PM Vajpayee led NDA government in the year 1998; his government came under attack surprisingly from the Congress which was in opposition. The speech given by the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a landmark speech in which he not only defended his government’s decision to conduct the tests but also reminded Congress of the first nuclear test conducted under Indira Gandhi in 1974.
“Atomic weapons can be used for defence too, for deferring the war”, Atal ji said while asking the House to rethink their strategy over the results of the Pokhran tests. The most powerful speech ever by Atal ji who stayed true to his name by not bowing down to the opposition despite the resistance in the House. Like a true statesman Atal ji not just silenced the opposition but also made them see the fault in their ways without even raising his voice. A gem of a speech indeed.
Tendering his resignation after the NDA government failed to garner the necessary support in the Lok Sabha. Atal Bihari the then PM submitted his resignation in the way which no one has ever seen or done since then. Not bowing down even in defeat he attacked his former allies who had betrayed him and made them wary of what lay for them in the future since they were planning to join the Congress. In his own way he showed the true face of Congress to the allies and also portrayed that the BJP was not lusting after power but was committed to the well being of the country. In his own words,“You want to run the country. It’s a very good thing. Our congratulations are with you. We will be completely involved in the service of our country. We bow down to the strength of majority. We assure you that till the time the work that we started with our bare hands in national interest is not completed, we shall not rest. Respected Speaker, I am going to the President to tender my resignation,”
In another speech directed towards the Congress he befuddled the Congress party leaders and made them aware of India’s style of secularism. Reminding Congress “The time has come when we see the old mindsets with the context of changing times; secularism is not just of one kind. Communalism is not just restricted to one kind; if one kind of communalism is promoted then another kind of communalism will definitely rise. This fact has never been understood till now. This country never saw demands for religion based rule, this country has never seen discrimination based on religion, and if it rises we will oppose it.” Beating the Congress at its own game Atal Ji went on to add, “We will never become like our religion driven neighbouring states. But does it (secularism) mean we do not have roots?” Atal Ji giving Congress leaders lessons on how to be secular and not appeaser is another novelty which should be relished by one and all.
Another great speech from Atal Ji came when he attacked the UPA government over the involvement of Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam. The situation remained tense in the Lok Sabha during his speech in which he attacked the UPA government of shielding their ministers. Using UPA’s policies to target their ministers ranging from atrocities committed on Dalits in Bihar under Lalu Yadav rule. An angry avatar of the former PM too can be seen in his speech when he angrily speaks that he would never speak in the House again, hinting towards implementing the Article 356 (Governor’s rule) in Bihar, a side of the leader you will seldom find in his other speeches.
Attacking Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha Atal Ji spoke about how the speech of Sonia Gandhi was full of words from the “Oxford dictionary”. He quoted the speech of the Congress President, “The BJP led government has shown itself to be incompetent, incestive, irresponsible and brazenly corrupt.” Atal Ji went on to thrash the UPA leader thoroughly by deriding her for her poor choice of words, “It is a government which has betrayed the mandate of the people” were the other words of Sonia Gandhi in her speech. A visibly angry Atal Ji blasted her for trying to portray her mandate as the people’s mandate and also asked her to give due respect to the mandate given to BJP by the people. A better schooling in Parliamentary etiquettes could not have been served to the Congress leader by anyone other than Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A masterstroke, to say the least.