Five elections, enduring legacy: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Lucknow connection

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New Delhi | August 16, 2018 9:15 PM

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shared a special connection with Lucknow, representing the Uttar Pradesh capital in the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Atal Bihari VajpayeeFormer prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shared a special connection with Lucknow, representing the Uttar Pradesh capital in the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms.

Congress nominee Ranjeet Singh was the first one to be humbled in Lucknow by Vajpayee when he fought for the seat in 1991.

Singh is now dead but a friend, Alok Kumar, recently recalled that contest.

“Atal’s stature was undoubtedly taller compared to the other candidates,” he told PTI, even while insisting that the Ram Temple movement made it easier for the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

His friend got only 20 per cent of the vote in that election, Vajpayee got 51 per cent.

Apart from 1991, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha from Lucknow in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

Among those who decided to take him from there have included Congress stalwart Karan Singh, current Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar and filmmaker Muzaffar Ali.

BJP leaders make it a point to stress his Lucknow connection.

On August 5, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is the current MP from Lucknow, hailed him for setting in flow a “river of development” in the city.

The minister was inaugurating a series of projects, worth Rs 938 crore for Lucknow and its neighbourhood.

“No one can deny the fact that the ‘Vikaas ki Ganga’ in Lucknow was initiated by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and was taken further by former MP Lalji Tandon,” he said.

“The Shaheed Path in Lucknow was begun by Atalji when he was the prime minister and I was the Union surface transport minister,” the minister recalled.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes while addressing a symposium in the city on ‘Transforming Urban Landscape’.

“There is a very close relationship between our mission (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation-AMRUT) and Lucknow city. Lucknow has been the ‘karmabhoomi’ of ‘mahapurush’ Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” he said.

“Vajpayee made Lucknow the laboratory to improve urban life in the country,” Modi said.

UP BJP spokesperson Hero Bajpai today said today Lucknow started making its presence felt globally when Vajpayee became the prime minister.

He also recalled how Vajpayee contributed to the city from his MPs’ area development fund.

“Unlike other politicians who are more interested in installing a plaque for even a small project for the public, Atalji was never interested in taking any credit for the work done by him,” he said.

Dilip Srivastava, a BJP corporator, recently demanded the `rain baseras’ – the shelters put up by the municipalities across the state during the winter months – should be named after Vajpayee.

“Atalji was always concerned for the welfare and the uplift of poor people, labourers and the homeless. This is a small step in acknowledging the vision and concern which he had for the downtrodden,” he said today.

“As an MP, he benevolently gave funds for the construction of bridges in Gomtinagar area of the state capital. He initiated the cleaning of river Gomti and also played an important role in the establishment of Kurmanchal Nagar (a township in Lucknow),” the corporator said.

“In fact people started getting a glimpse of the development in Lucknow after Atalji became our MP,” Srivastava said.

When Vajpayee turned 93 in December, the Yogi Adityanath government in the state released 93 prisoners, languishing in jails only because they couldn’t pay the fines.

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