Atal Bihari Vajpayee
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Atal Bihari Vajpayee (born December 1924) is an Indian statesman who served as the 10th Prime Minister of India three non-consecutive terms, first for 13 days in 1996, then for 13 months from 1998 to 1999 and then from 1999 to 2004 for a full five year terms, A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha nine times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha. He is the only parliamentarian to have been elected from four different states at different times (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Delhi). He won his first election from Balrampur and later he moved to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns.
Prime Minister of India (1996 to 2004)
Important events during his tenure as PM were as follows:
- In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan. Two weeks later, Pakistan responded with its own nuclear tests making it the newest declared nation with nuclear weapons.
The Lahore summit
- In late 1998 and early 1999, Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999, Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan. This eased the tension created by the 1998 nuclear tests, not only within the two nations but also in South Asia and the rest of the world.
- It revealed that militants and non-uniformed Pakistani soldiers had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured control of border hilltops, unmanned border posts and spreading out fast. The incursion centered around the town of Kargil.
- Indian army units swiftly rushed into Kashmir in response. Operation Vijay, launched in June 1999, saw the Indian military fighting thousands of militants and soldiers in the midst of heavy artillery shelling and while facing extremely cold weather, snow and treacherous terrain at the high altitude.
- Almost 70% of the territory recaptured by India.
- The victory in Kargil bolstered the image of Vajpayee and he hailed across the country for his bold and strong leadership.
National highway project, foreign policy, and economic reforms
- During his administration, Vajpayee introduced many domestic economic and infrastructural reforms. Including encouraging the private sector and foreign investments, encouraging research and development and privatization of some government-owned corporations.
- Vajpayee’s pet projects were the National Highway Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna.
- The government reformed the tax system, increased the pace of reforms and Pro-business initiatives, Major irrigation and housing schemes and so on.
- In 2001, the Vajpayee government launched the famous Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which aimed at improving the quality of education in primary and secondary schools.
2001 attack on Parliament
- On 13 December 2001, a group of masked, armed men stormed the Parliament building in Delhi. The terrorist managed to kill several security guards. But the building sealed off swiftly and security forces cornered and killed the men. Who later proven to be Pakistan Nationals.
- Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered a mobilization of India’s military forces. And as many as 500,000 servicemen amassed along the international boundary bordering Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Kashmir. Pakistan responded with the same. Vicious terrorist attacks and an aggressive and terrorist campaign froze day-to-day life in Kashmir.
Prevention of Terrorist Act
- The Vajpayee administration also passed the Prevention of the terrorist act against vigorous opposition of non-NDA parties.
2002 Gujarat Violence
- In 2002, Hindu-Muslim violence in the state Gujarat Killed more than 1,000 peoples. Vajpayee officially condemned the violence.
- Vajpayee accused of doing nothing to stop the violence, and later admitted mistakes in the handling the events.
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