On India’s Progress at 50, Nehru & How an Opposition is Critical to Democracy: Atal Behari Vajpayee

Consumate politician and powerful orator, Atal Behari Vajpayee won kudos as a parliamentarian who used his oratory with finesse. He was was the 10th Prime Minister of India, first term for 13 days in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004 and the first non-Indian National Congress Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. At age 93, Vajpayee is currently the oldest living former Indian Prime Minister.

In this video he speaks of the importance of an opposition in a democracy, on his relationship with and assessment of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Most crucially, he expands on how to insult India’s progress as a nation (at 50 !) would be to insult its people, the farmers, citizens of all hues. He also speaks of how Narasimha Rao, as prime minister appointed him to lead a delegation of parliamentarians to Pakistan.

A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament of India) ten times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha (upper house). He also served as the Member of parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Vajpayee was also the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Morarji Desai.

Today’s regime, crude and dismissive of a political opposition with prominent leaders including the prime minister using derogatory language and vitriol against leaders, could possibly learn a lesson or two from this video! And speech of the BJP’s first prime minister!



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