Now when the whole world is looking with anguish at the news of Taliban taking over Afghanistan, it brings back memory from times shortly after the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001. A high-level delegation, deputed by the US President, came to India with a request that it join its war on terror in Afghanistan. At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh was all for India joining Operation Enduring Freedom. But the three chiefs of the Indian armed forces did not want to get involved. After listening to all, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said: “Isko thoda aur sochna padega” (this may need more thought).
Known for his one-liners, some of which disarmed his political rivals and some created history, Vajpayee’s remark put an end to weeks of negotiations and dialogue between New Delhi and Washington over a united war on terror. Admiral Sushil Kumar, who was Navy chief between December 1998 and December 2001, offers this glimpse into Vajpayee’s way of handling issues in his book A Prime Minister To Remember: Memories of a Military Chief. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/atal-bihari-vajpayee-jaswant-singh-us-war-after-9-11-5862255/
16th August 2021, the nation fondly remembers former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his third death anniversary, and pay their tribute to the great leader. The great man captured the imagination of the people with his magic-woven words and the typical oratory style with pauses.
“Power games will go on. Governments will come and go. Parties will be made and unmade. But this country and its democracy should flourish eternally,” In his famous address to the parliament after his government lost the vote of confidence in 1996,
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was a statesman who will be remembered, among the many things, for his skill as an orator – an orator with a poem in his heart and a joke on his lips.
In his biography titled “Give the Name” written by Kingshuk Nag, there’s an interesting anecdote that the author shares. Way back in 1944, a 20-year-old Vajpayee had gone to Allahabad to participate in a debating competition. By the time he reached the venue, the judges were in the process of declaring the results. After much convincing, the judges allowed him to speak and “Within minutes, the tables were turned and the audience was enthralled and Vajpayee was unanimously declared the winner of the competition,” writes Nag.
Very early in life, Vajpayee knew that in order to be a good communicator one has to be a good listener first. The former prime minister had mastered the art of listening to all viewpoints. He showed immense creativity by playing with words as would a writer or a poet (he was one joining politics). He poured music into the ears of a listener, such was his skill with the audience.
In an interview with Tavleen Singh, Vajpayee had disclosed that the secret of his impressive oratory skill was neither from practising before the mirror nor by getting the verbatim polished by an expert. Instead, it lay in his genes which he got from his father (a school teacher) and his grandfather.
Though fluent in English, Vajpayee‘s articulation was at its best when he spoke in Hindi. Such was his command on the content that, going against the tide, he was the first leader to address the UN General Assembly in Hindi. All the previous leaders had chosen Queens language to enthrall the audience.
Vajpayee, a master wordsmith he tackled questions on a tricky issue using humour, satire, and facts drawn from his memory to drive home his point.
“Greatness comes out of showing respect to others and being sensitive to their needs,” is what Vajpayee always said and practised as a human being. Always open to ideas he believed in the politics of consensus and not confrontation and this reflected in all his speeches at every forum.
A leader with infinite patience, talking in an equally unhurried pace, Vajpayee was known to choose words carefully which were delivered with trademark long pauses.
Some of his most well-known speeches were the ones he delivered in the most passionate and unconventional style on the floor of the Parliament during his years as the prime minister.
A master in extempore speech, some of his best speeches came off the cuff. He loved the big stage and was known for weaving in elements on the spot and using his gift of gab to manoeuvre through the hearts of the masses connecting with all.
Known for creating magic with words, sharing some of the inspirational quotes by Vajpayee:
Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity.
Mere Prabhu! Mujhe itani unchaai kabhi mat dena, Gairon ko gale na lagaa sakoon, Itani rukhaai kabhi mat dena
जो कल थे, वे आज नहीं हैं।
जो आज हैं, वे कल नहीं होंगे।
होने, न होने का क्रम, इसी तरह चलता रहेगा,
हम हैं, हम रहेंगे, यह भ्रम भी सदा पलता रहेगा।
(all images courtesy Google search)
Anup Sharma (@TweetsAnup)
The author is a StoryTeller with more than two decades of experience in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. He is also the Senior Director at Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) and advisor to various Literature Festivals in India.