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Was Atal Bihari Vajpayee a 'right man in the wrong party'?
When Atal Bihari Vajpayee took his last breath on 16th August 2018, leaders and common people across ideologies, parties, religions or caste mourned alike.

Vajpayee commanded immense respect from even his hard-core rivals. He believed that thought there could be difference of opinion with rivals but not bitterness, a spirit that is impossible to imagine in today’s politics.

However, in this duration there are two things that came to my notice. The first was that Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karun Shukla, who had joined the Congress in February 2014, ending her 32 year old relationship with the BJP, criticised the Modi government for politicising Vajpayee’s legacy for self interest. Secondly, many while mourning Vajpayee’s demise described him as a “right man in the wrong party”.

But is there any merit in this statement? Well, right through his career, he exercised compliance instead of dominance. This comment definitely has some context because Narendra Modi is seen as a dominant BJP leader.

Vajpayee, who was one of the founding members and the first president of the BJP had laid down the rule that the party would be run by a democratically chosen representative only and party’s prime ministerial candidate too would be chosen by consensus.

After the BJP came to power in 2014, Vajpayee was conferred with the highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’. On the other hand, Sardar Patel was given the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991, forty one years after his death along with Rajiv Gandhi. Interestingly, Rajiv Gandhi’s mother Indira Gandhi and his grandfather Nehru had nominated themselves for Bharat Ratna while they were prime ministers. Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary which falls on October 31 was declared as ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ by Narendra Modi-led BJP government in 2014.

Since Vajpayee passed away during the present BJP government’s tenure he was accorded a full state funeral and seven days of state mourning was announced. But recall when former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao had passed away. His dead body wasn’t allowed inside the AICC headquarters. His funeral too was held in Hyderabad and not Delhi. All the dignitaries attending the funeral left midway leaving the aggrieved relatives confused. Ironically, all this happened when the Congress was in power. Had there been a Congress government in power, Vajpayee wouldn’t have got the same respect!

So, whosoever is saying that Vajpayee was a “right man in the wrong party” should rethink!

Instead of slamming the BJP, Karun Shukla should thank the ruling government for bestowing honour to one of the party’s founding leaders. But the problem is that she is in the wrong party.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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