PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi praised former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his vision on Jammu and Kashmir, while leaders of the National Conference and PDP recalled that the late leader made no discrimination with states on the basis of region and religion, with PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti calling him a “messiah” for the people of J&K.
Speaking during the all-party prayer meeting for Vajpayee on Monday, Modi said that before Vajpayee took office as PM, India was often cornered on Kashmir issue in international forum. Vajpayee, he said, changed the narrative with his vision and ability.
“He got countries into two groups: those who were with terrorism and those against terrorism. He brought the world nations in support of India on the issue of terrorism,” Modi said.
Modi said that Vajpayee had faced “untouchability”, as his first government lasted for only 13 days because no one was ready to support him. He said that any other person in that situation had either compromised with the situation or quit. “(But) with self-confidence and faith of the masses, he did not stop. When no one was ready to come along, a change came in national politics – the practice to take everyone along started,” Modi said.
The meeting began with a documentary on Vajpayee’s life.
Calling Vajpayee no less than a messiah for the people of J&K, Mehbooba Mufti said, “He was a leader who relied on the people of Kashmir, understood their sentiments, and won their trust…. He was leader of the BJP but the Prime Minister for all of us – he made no discrimination with anyone.”
NC leader Farooq Abdullah also said that Vajpayee never discriminated on the lines of region and religion because he aware that taking everyone along was essential for India’s growth. He said that one should harbour love for the whole country if one were to truly remember Vajpayee.
Recalling his 65-year association with the late leader, BJP veteran L K Advani said he had never imagined addressing a meeting where Vajpayee would not be present. Advani recalled that the former PM was a good cook, and that he learnt a lot from Vajpayee in life.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said Vajpayee had set a model on how a swayamsevak should take everyone along in political life.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the late BJP stalwart worked by taking everyone along. Azad recalled that as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, he had to meet Vajpayee, then a key Opposition leader, several times a day when Parliament was in session and they used to eat meals together. “The distance we see today (between the ruling party and the Opposition) was not there,” he said.
The Tripura state cabinet passed a proposal to condole the death of Vajpayee.