Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who passed away on Thursday in Delhi was known for his master oratory and his trademark wit and humour. His replies on the floor of the Parliament and outside worked used to leave his critics with virtually nothing to counter him. A common refrain used for Vajpayee, especially from those in opposition parties, was that he was the right man, but in a wrong party.
The argument that his opponents used was that while the BJP always took a hard line on religious issues, Vajpayee was often moderate. However, Atal Bihari Vajpayee always defended the BJP and his association with it. One such occasion was in the Parliament when the late leader left members of the House, including those in the opposition in splits while responding to the comments about his association with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
While speaking in the Parliament over allegations of being ‘power hungry’, he responded saying that he has been in the parliament since 40 years and everyone knows his behaviour. He quoted the example of Sharad Pawar, who broke his party to join the government, and said that he did nothing of the sort. He further said that he has heard voices in the house saying Vajpayee is good but not in the right party (BJP). Vajpayee responded, ‘SO, what is it that you intend to do with this good Vajpayee’ (“To is achhe Vajpayee se aapka kya karne ka irada hai). The whole house left the whole House reeling in laughter.
Vajpayee further went on to quote Lord Rama and said that he fears slander, not death. Moreover, famous writer Khushwant Singh also wrote in his book that Vajpayee is not wrong, but in a wrong party. Vajpayee had said in an interview later that he does not agree with it.
This was not the only instance when Vajpayee stumped his opponents. His speech whether as a Prime Minister or before that as a member of the opposition, was always heard with attention by all. The poetic expression and the framing of his sentences gave Vajpayee a distinct status among the politicians.