AB Vajpayee: An orator par excellence

The former prime minister passed away on Thursday. The nonagenarian’s political career spanned six decades, in which time he came to be known as a gifted orator. A glimpse from some speeches: 

The first Hindi speech at the UNGA
Atal Bihari Vajpayee's oratorical prowess was in full display in October 1977 when, as India's foreign minister, he addressed the 32nd UN General Assembly in Hindi – the first time anyone had addressed the gathering of world leaders in India's national language. This was Vajpayee's first visit to the UN General Assembly and he spoke about feeling a “special sense of exhilaration,” evident in his spirited address.

27 May 1996: Resignation speech after 13 days
The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the 1996 general election. It won 161 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha even as the PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress won 140 seats. President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited him to form the government, but the party failed to muster a majority. Vajpayee resigned as India's 10th prime minister 13 days after taking oath of office.

Pokhran speech in Parliament
A month after he became prime minister for the second time, Vajpayee announced Operation Shakti – in which India conducted five underground nuclear tests at Pokhran – on 11 May 1998. This was the second time that India had conducted a nuclear test. Vajpayee defended the decision in Parliament saying India's nuclear capability would serve as a deterrent and articulated the no-first use policy.

Address at the Shahi Killah, Lahore, Pakistan
When Vajpayee visited Pakistan in 1999, it was the first time in 21 years that an Indian prime minister was doing so. It was during Vajpayee's tenure that Indo-Pakistan relationship swung widely, from the high of the Lahore Declaration with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, to the low of the Kargil war followed by the Agra Summit with General Pervez Musharraf. The statesman that he was, he believed in and always strived for peace between the two nations – as evidenced in his address at the Shahi Killah Lahore on 20 February 1999:

Vajpayee, the poet
His oratorical prowess wasn’t limited to political talk and speeches. He wielded it with equal enthusiasm for his poetry. Don’t take our word for it. Listen to him reciting his poem Kadam mila kar chalna hoga

Aadhaar verdict whittles down Modi’s Digital India ambition
The temple door is now open, but how many knocks did it take?
‘Shocking that finance minister is working towards restoring access of private parties to Aadhaar’
Editor’s Pick More