The forgotten statesman, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been called the "Bheeshm Pitamah of Indian politics."
From an insignificiant political player to a key leader, Vajpayee will be known for his several contributions. From leading a delegation at United Nations to introducing Lahore bus service to raising Kashmir issue, Vajpayee has won the hearts of Indians and even opposition.
Let us take a look at his key achievements:
1. Nuclear weapon country: We boast of several bombs in Indian capacity but it was under Vajpayee in 1998 that India conducted 5 Indian nuclear tests in one week.
2. Right To Education: Do you think the idea was exclusively a Congress achievement, no it was originally Vajpayee’s idea. He laid the foundation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, which made education for children aged 6 to 14 years a fundamental right.
3. Telecom success story: You would be shocked to believe that Rajiv Gandhi’s telecom revolution did not help much of India but it was Vajpayee's New Telecom Policy (NTP) that led to a telecom penetration rate rise from below 3% (1999) to over 70% in October 2012.
According to Columbia University’s Professor Arvind Panagariya, “Vajpayee was responsible for ramping up our telecom success.”
4. International relationships: ‘Look East’ policy which Modi is promoting was actually a strategy taken up by Atal ji during his tenure. He improved trade ties, resolved territorial disputes with China; enhanced strategic and military cooperation with Israel.
India’s cold-war with America also loosened after Bill Clinton’s visit in 2000. Vajpayee was also among the first passengers on the inaugural Delhi-Lahore Bus which established road connectivity between India and Pakistan for the first time since 1947
5. Science & technology: Again Narendra Modi is just following the footsteps of Vajpayee in the field of science and technology. He passed the Chandrayan-1 project in 56th Indian Independence Day, August 15 2003.
His words as we recall were: "Our country is now ready to fly high in the field of science. I am pleased to announce that India will send her own spacecraft to the moon by 2008. It is being named Chandrayaan-1."
6. NHDP and PMGSY: The National Highways Develop Project (NHDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) were two projects were his greatest achievements as Prime Minister of India. NHDP involves connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. PMGSY is a nationwide plan to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages.
7. Delhi metro: India's best mass transit public transport system, Delhi Metro project was approved by him, in fact the first line was also inaugurated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He also boarded the first line at Kashmiri Gate, en-route Seelampur.
8. GDP growth: During Vajpayee’s tenure, India saw several tragedies and disasters, yet our GDP didn't falter during his time.