A Constructive Parliamentarian
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has dedicated over sixty years of his life in service of the country. He served the country as member of Parliament for five decades and as Prime Minister of India for six years. He is an orator par excellence, whose speeches are listened with attention by friends and foes inside and outside Parliament. He used the Parliament as an educational forum as well as political weapon and enhanced the prestige of parliamentary institution. He did not mince words when criticism is due or warning necessary. But his criticism has not hurt his opponents. His sharp intellect and wit is almost tailor-made for parliamentary debate. Shri Vajpayee often rises above party politics and gives primacy to national interest over political consideration, and he always appreciated well taken Opposition point of view.
As a Prime Minister he also proved to be an achiever par excellence. He gave nuclear dimension to India?s military power without fear of sanctions but also established close friendly relations with President Clinton of the U.S. and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. Even after the Kargil betrayal he extended the hand of friendship to General Musharaf and took steps to establish cordial relations with China and other neighbours in tune with his words ?I can change history but not geography?. His domestic achievements were starting highway quadrangle with rural road connectivity, Chandrayan programme, linking rivers to solve irrigation and flood problems, cheap and speedy communi-cation system and establishing ?Sagar Mala? to connect 4000 kms. of coast-line. He made India a food grain exporter, a major out-sourcing country and enriched the country with over billion dollar foreign exchange reserves.
However his constructive role as a Parliamentarian is hidden in the documents of Parliament and is not so well-known. He introduced 22 Bills in all including 20 when in opposition of which nine were Constitutional Amendment Bills and 2 when he was the Foreign Minister of India. They show his painstaking exercise in strengthening the democratic foundation of our country, his deep concern for health and welfare of the people, faith in independence of judiciary, taming money power in elections and above all human touch towards weak and handicapped people. The fact that some Bills were accepted or rejected or could not come for discussion and lapsed because of dissolution of Parliament is of little significance.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee