The life and times of Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Updated: 16 August, 2018 8:32 pm IST
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Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away Thursday, ensured that the BJP’s ideology was compatible with Indian politics. A look at the important milestones in his chequered political career.


A 17-year-old Vajpayee joins the Quit India Movement. He was born on 25 December, 1924, in Gwalior.


Is elected to Parliament from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh for the first time as a member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the precursor to the BJP.


Vajpayee is appointed president of the BJS.

In this photo from 1960s, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is seen in deep thought | Twitter/IndiaHistoryPic


In the aftermath of Emergency, the Janata Party (a coalition of BJS and three other parties) forms the government at the Centre, led by Morarji Desai. Vajpayee is appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Vajpayee becomes the first person to deliver a speech in Hindi at the United Nations General Assembly.

Foreign minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed United Nations General Assembly in 1977 | UN
Foreign minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed United Nations General Assembly in 1977 | UN


Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Vajpayee visits Peking in 1979 | Twitter/@IndiaHistoryPic


Leaves the Jana Sangh and is appointed president of the newly-formed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


Vajpayee is awarded the Padma Vibhushan in the field of Public Affairs.


After the Babri Masjid demolition, Vajpayee apologises for not being able to prevent it. “We tried to prevent it, but we could not succeed. We are sorry for that,” he said in an interview.


Vajpayee is named the Best Parliamentarian for his overall contribution to the Indian Parliament.


The BJP forms the government after winning the general elections; Vajpayee becomes the Prime Minister for the first time. He resigns after 13 days when he fails to prove his government’s majority.


After a tumultuous two-year United Front government led by H.D. Deve Gowda and then I.K. Gujral, fresh elections take place. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) forms the government at the Centre; Vajpayee becomes the PM again.

May 1998

India, under Vajpayee’s leadership, conducts a series of successful nuclear tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan. The tests are termed Pokhran II; Pokhran I was conducted in 1974 under then PM Indira Gandhi.

February 1999

Vajpayee launches a bus service from Delhi to Lahore in an attempt to further peace talks and trade between India and Pakistan. He also signs the landmark Lahore Declaration.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif at Wagah Border in 1999 | Twitter/IndiaHistoryPic
Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif at Wagah Border in 1999 | Twitter/IndiaHistoryPic

April 1999

Vajpayee government falls after losing a no-confidence motion by one vote.

June 1999

The Kargil war is fought with Vajpayee as the caretaker PM.

October, 1999

Vajpayee becomes the PM for the third time as BJP-led NDA wins 303 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats.


Vajpayee announces his dream Golden Quadrilateral Project, which aims to connect the four metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai through a highway network.


Vajpayee condemns the Gujarat riots, but is criticised for not doing enough to stop the violence.


Vajpayee visits China and recognises Tibet as a part of it. As a result, China accepts Sikkim as a part of India.


BJP loses the general elections. Vajpayee accepts moral responsibility for the loss.


Vajpayee announces his retirement from politics.


Vajpayee is awarded with India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. The Narendra Modi government declares that 25 December, his birthday, will be celebrated as ‘good governance day’.

16 August, 2018

Dies at the age of 93 after being treated for multiple medical problems at AIIMS for nine weeks

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  1. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first non-Congress prime minister to complete a full term in office, died in Delhi on Thursday after a prolonged illness, doctors said. He was 93.


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