TODAY -

Vajpayeeji full of wit & humour

Free Thinker *



I was told that Shri (L) Atal Bihari Vajpayee once came to the house of Shri (L) Madhumangol Sharma at Tera Bazar, Imphal; Vajpayeeji wanted to go to toilet ; Sharmaji became jittery because there was no pucca toilet ; reluctantly he requested Atalji to do the needful at the back of his house in the open ; great Atalji without embarrassing the host moved ahead saying that ‘khule mey kerne ka maza hi aur h’(doing it in the open is also enjoyable).

Perhaps it was a historic incident which may be shared with all and sundry that Shri Th. Chaoba Singh, then MP from Manipur , an NDA ally, expecting his induction in the council of ministers of Vajpayeeji, was waiting eagerly for an invitation for the same; invitation did not come till late in the evening; Chaoba Singh became restless and went straight to Prime Minister’s Residence ; security could not stop him as he was rushing so forcefully towards the room where Atalji was taking rest; Atalji could understand his appearance at that odd hour; with his inevitable smile he said , “ Chaobaji come for the swearing- in- ceremony tomorrow”, “nahi, nahi aaj” as it was already passed midnight.

Sudheendra Kulkarni ( close aide to PM Atalji & also his speech-writer) says “Vajpayeeji genuinely believed that even a small Party of one or two MPs, representing a minority community in the northeast, needed to be heard in New Delhi.

Again I was told that the then Chief Minister of Manipur Shri (L) W. Nipamacha was briefing the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari about the untoward incidents that took place in his State as a result of initiating a peace dialogue with an outfit; he was talking with emotion nonstop for about half an hour; Vajpayeeji was listening to him attentively and trying to understand what he was uttering; when he was done he requested Nipamachaji to give a written submission to his Private Secretary, so that he remembers all those important things ; he didn’t say that he could not comprehend.

What a sapient gesture it was! Shri N K Singh , the then Secretary to the prime minister Vajpayeeji has given us to know that he made a prat-fall by asking Vajpayeeji what his responsibilities would be ; Vajpayeeji looked at him cryptically and said “ everything”. It was a very kind but a witty admonition.

Once the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, his cabinet colleague and also a crucial NDA ally turned very angry and needed to be appeased. No one could pacify her. Ultimately Vajpayjee himself had to go to Kolkata to meet her. Instead of calling her to Raj Bhavan where he was staying, he went straight to her house. There he met Mamataji’s mother and he touched her feet.

Taking the blessing he started talking to her, asking about her health and also talked about her talented daughter etc. etc. Mamataji melted and the mission was accomplished.

Someone asked him why he had a photograph of PV Narasimha Rao in his house long after the former PM had fallen out of favor with everyone; Vajpayee is said to have replied, “I don’t change my friends according to political fortunes “. Friends are forever (TOI). When Parliament was attacked on December 13, 2001, Sonia Gandhi rang up the Prime Minister Vajpayee to inquire about his well being.

Referring to this, Vajpayee said, “Indian Democracy was secure when the leader of the opposition expressed anxiety for the well-being of the Prime Minister during a crisis”. Such was the magnanimity of Vajpayee! (Pranabda recalls).

NM Ghatate a long companion of Vajpayeeji says he misses Vajpayeeji’s sense of humor most.

When Ghatate informed him the sad demise of JN Dixit, Manmohan Singh’s first national security advisor; Vajpayee responded “ a good man, his problem was he used to work hard and worry a lot about the consequences.” Ghatate reminded Vajpayee about Dixit’s predecessor Brajesh Mishra who was also equally hard working; he replied, “Brajesh was hard working but then I had to worry about the consequences.”

A TV anchor narrated a story about him, when Vajpayeeji lost the election in 1971, he asked his friend /follower Deshmukh to take out the bicycle for going to a movie. It was quite a normal laity behavior.

People came out in lakhs to say adieu to him not because he was a former prime minister or a BJP leader or Sangh man but he was Vajpayeeji, man of the masses.

You know why I admire Vajpayeeji because he transcended ideologies and petty politics and stood for humanity. And you know why people love him because he liked cinema, music, dance, arts, poetry, good food and drink – truly a common man like you and me. “What is the life span of death; not even a few seconds,” A B Vajpayee , the poet.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 20, 2018.



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