Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Major events; Key milestones of his political journey

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. Vajpayee served three terms as the Prime Minister of India. He served the first term in 1996 for just 13 days. During his second term in 1998-199, he served for 13 months. In his final and third term, he served the nations for full five years from 1999-2004.

Created On: Aug 17, 2018 09:46 ISTModified On: Aug 17, 2018 10:17 IST
Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at 05:05 pm on August 16, 2018 following a prolonged illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He was 93. Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on June 11, 2018.

Vajpayee will be accorded a state funeral at Smriti Sthal, Delhi at 4 pm on August 17, 2018. According to reports, the Urban Development Ministry has allotted approximately 1.5 acres of land for his memorial.

A seven-day national mourning has been announced by the Central Government as a mark of respect for the former Prime Minister. During this period, the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India.


 Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. Vajpayee served three terms as the Prime Minister of India. He served the first term in 1996 for just 13 days. During his second term in 1998-199, he served for 13 months. In his final and third term, he served the nations for full five years from 1999-2004.

Vajpayee’s term as Member of Parliament

Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He was a member of the Parliament for over four decades. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for ten times, and was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house.

Electoral History – Lok Sabha



Lok Sabha constituency

1st term



2nd term



3rd term



4th term


New Delhi

5th term


New Delhi

6th term



7th term



8th term



9th term



10th term



Electoral History –Rajya Sabha



1st term


2nd term


Vajpayee’s political career

• Vajpayee was among the founding members of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh which he also headed from 1968 to 1972.

• In 1975, Vajpayee was arrested along with several other opposition leaders during the Internal Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congress party. He was in jail till 1977.

• Following Janata Party's victory in the 1977 General Elections, he became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desai's cabinet.

• The Janata Party was dissolved in 1979 soon after Morarji Desai resigned as the Prime Minister.

• Following the collapse of the Janata government, Vajpayee restructured the Jana Sangh into the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980.

• Vajpayee joined many of his Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh colleagues particularly LK Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to form the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He became the BJP's first President.

• Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India between 1996 and 2004 in three non-consecutive terms. He served the first term in 1996 for just 13 days. During his second term in 1998-199, he served for 13 months. In his final and third term, he served the nations for full five years from 1999-2004.

• In December 2005, Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics.

Vajpayee’s achievements

  • As a foreign minister, Vajpayee was the first person to deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi in 1977.

Atal Bihari vajpayee at Pokhran-II nuclear test site

  • Within two weeks of assuming office for a second time, Vajpayee had ordered nuclear tests at Pokhran. In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan.
  • In late 1998 and early 1999, he pushed for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan and initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan.
  • He inaugurated Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999 and signed Lahore Declaration with Nawaz Sharif, the then PM of Pakistan.
  • It was declared by the PM Modi government in 2014 that Vajpayee's birthday, 25 December, will be observed as Good Governance Day every year.

Vajpayee’s early political career

• He was quite active in political affairs since his young age. His activism started with Arya Kumar Sabha of Gwalior, the youth wing of the Arya Samaj, of which he became the general secretary in 1944.

• He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939.

• In August 1942, he and his elder brother Prem were arrested for 23 days during the Quit India Movement.

• In 1948, the RSS was banned for its alleged role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

• In 1951, he was enrolled to work for the newly formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a right-wing political party associated with the RSS. He was appointed as a National Secretary of the party and soon became a follower of party leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee.

• In 1954, Vajpayee was with Mukherjee when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir to protest against inferior treatment of non-Kashmiri Indian visitors. It was during the fast that Mukherjee died.

Key happenings during the premierships of Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Pokhran-II nuclear tests

In May, 1998 India conducted five underground nuclear tests – Pokhran-II, following the Pokhran-I test of 1974. These tests established India as a nuclear weapons power, although it also resulted in the imposition of limited sanctions by the US, UK, Canada and other nations.

Kargil War

The 73-day Kargil War, fought during May – July 1999, had started with the reports that intruders from Pakistan had come deep inside Indian Territory in strategic positions that overlooked the only road link between Srinagar and Leh.

In response, the Indian armed forces launched Operation Vijay, mobilising almost 200000 troops. On July 14, 1999, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared Operation Vijay a success. On July 26, 1999, the Indian Army successfully took back control of posts stationed at strategic positions.

Terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament

On December 13, 2001, a group of masked armed men with fake IDs stormed the Indian Parliament building in Delhi.

The terrorists managed to kill several security guards, but the building was sealed off swiftly and security forces cornered and killed the men, who were later proven to be Pakistan nationals. The terrorist attack was thought to be conducted by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists.

Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered the mobilisation of India's military forces and over 500000 army personnel were stationed along the international boundary bordering Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kashmir.

Gujarat violence

On February 27, 2002, the Sabarmati Express train was attacked at Godhra by a Muslim mob. The Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were killed in the attack. Lasting for over a month, the riots claimed the lives of more than 1000 people, mostly Muslims.

Vajpayee officially condemned the violence; however, later he made controversial remarks: "Wherever there are Muslims, they do not want to live in peace with others. Instead of living peacefully, they want to propagate their religion by creating terror in the minds of others."

Vajpayee was accused of doing nothing to stop the violence. He later admitted his mistake in underestimating the violence and not doing enough to stop it.

Vajpayee’s early life and education

• Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior.

• He did his schooling from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gorkhi, Bara, Gwalior and graduated from Gwalior's Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College).

• He completed his post-graduation with an M.A. in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur.

• He also worked for the newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies ‘Swadesh’ and ‘Veer Arjun’.

• He never married and has remained a bachelor his entire life.

Awards bestowed upon him

  • Padma Vibhushan in 1992
  • Lokmanya Tilak Award in 1994 by Government of India
  • Best Parliamentarian Award in 1994.
  • Bharat Ratna Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant Award in 1994
  • Bharat Ratna award in 2015

Apart from being active in politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was famous for his writing style. Some of his penned Autobiographies are:

•    Atal Bihari Vaj mem tina dasaka (1992)

•    Pradhanamantri Atala Bihari Vajapeyi, chune hue bhashana

•    Values, vision & verses of Vajpayee: India's man of destiny

•    India's foreign policy: New dimensions

•    Assam problem: Repression no solution


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