Inder Kumar Gujral (born 4 December 1919) is a former Indian politician who served as the12th Prime Minister of India from April 1997 to March 1998. Gujral was the second PM to govern exclusively from the Rajya Sabha, first being his immediate predecessor H.D. Deve Gowda.

He participated in India's freedom struggle, and was jailed in 1942 during the 'Quit India Movement'.

Minister in Indira Gandhi government

In the tumultuous days of June 1975, he was Minister of Information and Broadcasting. On 12 June 1975, the Allahabad High Court gave a verdict that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used unfair means in elections of 1971 and termed her election null and void. Later, Gujral was appointedAmbassador of India to the Soviet Union as the Indian envoy to Moscow                                                                                                                                        .In Janata Dal
Gujral left the Indian National Congress party in the mid-1980s and joined the Janata Dal. The Dal was a third-party with mainly socialist leanings and regional bases. In the 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in Punjab. He served as Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister V. P. Singh's cabinet. In 1989, Singh sent him toSrinagar to seal the deal with the kidnappers in the case of the 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed. The largest issue he had to deal with in this cabinet role was Iraq's invasion of Kuwaitand the subsequent events that led to the first Gulf War of January 1991. As India's representative, he personally met with Saddam Hussein. His hug with Hussein during the meeting remains a matter of controversy. In the 1991 mid-term parliamentary elections, Gujral contested from Patna constituency in Bihar against Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya)candidate and then-Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. However, the election was countermanded following complaints of large-scale irregularities. In 1992, Gujral was elected to Rajya Sabha and remained a key Janata Dal leader.
After 1996 elections, when the United Front government was formed at the center under the premiership of H. D. Deve Gowda, Gujral was again named Minister of External Affairs. During this second tenure, he propounded his 'Gujral Doctrine', which called for better relations with neighbours. He also served as Union Minister or Minister of State of several other portfolios—Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, Information & Broadcasting, Works & Housing and Planning.
The Congress party was supporting the United Front government from outside, but decided to withdraw support, which led to its collapse in April 1997. To avoid mid-term elections, a compromise was reached. The Congress party agreed to support another United Front government under a new leader, provided its concerns—such as not being consulted before taking important decisions and being marginalized—were addressed. The United Front elected Gujral as their new leader and he was sworn in as Prime Minister on 21 April 1997.                                                  Prime Minister.
Gujral inherited the bitterness between the Congress Party and the United Front from his predecessor Deve Gowda. However he maintained good relations with the Congress Party, which supported his government from outside. Within a few weeks in office, Gujral faced trouble, not from the Congress party but within his own Janata Dal. The Central Bureau of Investigation asked for the permission from the Governor of Bihar A. R. Kidwai to prosecute the state Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in a corruption case related to the purchase of cattle-feed, dubbed the Fodder Scam. Subsequently the demand for the resignation of Yadav was raised both from within and out of the United Front. However, Yadav sternly rejected the demand. Prime Minister Gujral just exhorted Yadav to step down without actually taking any action against his government. When Gujral transferred the CBI director Joginder Singh, who was investigating the case against Yadav, many people considered this as an attempt on the part of Prime Minister to protect Yadav. When Yadav felt that he no longer enjoyed a commanding position in Janata Dal, he left the party and formed his own Rashtriya Janata Dal on 3 July 1997. Out of 45 Janata Dal members of parliament, 17 left the party and supported Yadav. However, the new party continued in the United Front and Gujral's government was saved from immediate danger.
Another controversial decision of his government was its recommendation of President's rule in Uttar Pradesh, following unruly scenes in the state assembly on 21 October 1997. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Kalyan Singh sought vote of confidence when the violence and unruly scenes took place in the assembly. However President K.R. Narayanan refused to sign the recommendation and sent it back to the government for reconsideration. The Allahabad High Court also gave a decision against President's rule in Uttar Pradesh.
Gujral Doctrine
In early November 1997, parts of interim report of Jain Commission inquiring into the conspiracy aspects of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were leaked to the press. Reportedly, the Jain Commission had indicted the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for tacitly supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), responsible for the former Prime Minister's assassination. The DMK was part of the ruling coalition at the center and had ministers in the Union Cabinet. The Congress first demanded the tabling of the report on the floor of the parliament. The report was tabled on 19 November 1997. When it was confirmed that the Jain Commission had in fact held the DMK responsible for supporting the LTTE, the Congress party demanded that the ministers belonging to the DMK be dropped. There was exchange of letters between Congress president Sitaram Kesri and Prime Minister Gujral. However, Gujral refused to budge. At a public function inCalcutta on 23 November 1997, he gave a hint of what was to follow saying 'mid-term elections are around the corner'. The Congress Party finally withdrew support from his government on 28 November 1997. Gujral resigned following this withdrawal. As no alternative government could be formed, the only option was mid-term elections, as Gujral had foreseen. Prime Minister I. K. Gujral was in office for 11 months, three of them as caretaker.
The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India’s immediate neighbours as spelt out by Gujral, first as India’s External Affairs Minister and later as the Prime Minister. Among other factors, these five principles arise from the belief that India’s stature and strength cannot be divorced from the quality of its relations with its neighbours. It, thus, recognises the supreme importance of friendly, cordial relations with neighbours. These principles are:
  1. With neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity, but gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and trust.
  2. No South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of the region.
  3. No country should interfere in the internal affairs of another.
  4. All South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  5. They should settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.
According to Gujral, these five principles, scrupulously adhered to, would achieve a fundamental recasting of South Asia’s regional relationships, including the difficult relationship between India and Pakistan. Further, the implementation of these principles would generate a climate of close and mutually benign cooperation in the region, where the weight and size of India is regarded positively and as an asset by these countries.
Following a series of Pakistan-sponsored terrorist incidents throughout the 2000s, culminating with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Gujral Doctrine has been severely criticised. Following the attack, India Today magazine said targeted, covert strikes against Pakistani terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba were a "capability that I.K. Gujral dismantled as prime minister over a decade ago will take over a year to rebuild.


The elections were held in February–March 1998. Gujral contested again from Jalandhar constituency in Punjab with the support of Akali Dal. The Akali Dal, though a part of BJP-led coalition, opted to support Gujral because during his Prime Ministerial tenure, Gujral declared that the central government will share the expenses on stamping out terrorism in Punjab during 1980s and early 1990s, along with the state government of Punjab. That eased the strain on economy of Punjab and its ruling class to a great extent and the Akali Dal decided to support Gujral. Gujral defeated Umrao Singh of the Congress by over 131,000 votes.
In the 12th Lok Sabha, Gujral actively opposed the BJP-led coalition government. In a debate in Lok Sabha on 29 May 1998, he pointed out some of the drawbacks of the government in handling of the nuclear tests conducted at Pokhran. He also opposed the government's decision to impose President's rule in Bihar. However Gujral actively supported Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in February 1999 and signing of Lahore Declaration with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. On 19 April 1999, when the BJP-led government sought vote of confidence on the floor of the Lok Sabha after the withdrawal of support by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Gujral opposed the government.
Gujral did not contest the 1999 elections and retired from active politics. In 2004, his son Naresh Gujral unsuccessfully contested with anShiromani Akali Dal seat from JalandharPunjab constituency in the Indian General Elections.
He is currently a member of the Club of Madrid, an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries.

[edit]Personal life

Gujral speaks fluent Urdu, and spends part of his leisure time writing Urdu couplets. His wife, Sheila Gujral, died on 11 July 2011. She was a prominent poet and author of several books in Punjabi, Hindi and English languages. His brother Satish Gujral is a prominent painter and architect. Gujral has two sons, Naresh and Vishal Gujral. His elder son, Naresh, is a Member of the Rajya Sabha.His niece, Medha, is married to Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota.


Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda ( born 18 May 1933)was the 11th Prime Minister of India (1996–1997) and the 14th Chief minister of the state of Karnataka (1994–1996).
He is an influential leader of the Vokkaliga community and is popularly known as "Mannina maga" (Son of the soil) for espousing the cause of the farmers. He is the National President of the Janata Dal (Secular) party.

Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda was born on 18th May, 1933 in Haradanahalli village ofHolenarasipura talukHassan DistrictKarnataka. He earned his Diploma in Civil Engineering from Smt.L.V. Polytechnic, Hassan, Karnataka. He married Smt. Chennamma and the couple have 4 sons and 2 daughters.

Early life and education

Political career
His parents, Shri Dodde Gowda and Smt. Devamma were from a middle class agricultural background. Hence, he was exposed to the hardships of farmers, early in his life and later became a champion of the farmers cause.
Deve Gowda joined the Indian National Congress party in 1953 and remained its member until 1962. During that period, He was the President of Anjaneya Cooperative Society ofHolenarasipura and later became a Member of the Taluk Development Board, Holenarasipura taluk, Hassan.
In 1962, Deve Gowda was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Holenarasipura constituency as an independent candidate. Later, He was elected from the same constituency to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for six consecutive terms from 1962 to 1989. He joined theCongress(O) during the Congress split and served as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly from March 1972 to March 1976 and again fron November 1976 to December 1977. During the Emergency (1975–77), he was imprisoned in the Bangalore Central Jail.
Deve Gowda was twice the President of state unit of the Janata Party. He served as a minister in the Janata Party Government in Karnataka headed by Shri Ramakrishna Hegde from 1983 to 1988. He became President of the state unit of Janata Dal in 1994 and was the driving force behind the victory of the party in the 1994 State Assembly elections. He was elected from theRamanagara constituency sworn in as the 19th Chief Minister of Karnataka in December 1994.
In January 1995, Deve Gowda toured Switzerland and attended the Forum of International Economists. His tour to Singapore, which brought in much needed foreign investment to the State, proved his business acumen.
In the 1996 general elections, the Congress party headed by P.V. Narasimha Rao lost decisively but no other party won enough seats to form a government. When the United Front (a conglomeration of non-Congress and non-BJP regional parties) decided to form the Government at the Centre with the support of the Congress, Deve gowda was unexpectedly chosen to head the government and became the 11th Prime Minister of India. He took over as Prime Minister of India on 1 June 1996 and continued until 11 April 1997. Also, He was the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the United Front, the policy making apex body of all the constituents of the ruling front.
Janata Dal (Secular)The Janata Dal was formed with the merger of the Janata Party with smaller opposition parties in 1988. In 1996, the party reached its pinnacle when Deve Gowda became Prime Minister of India, heading the United Front (UF) coalition government.
The Janata Dal (Secular) traces its roots back to the Janata Party founded by Jayaprakash Narayan who united all the opposition parties under one banner for the 1977 national elections.
In 1999, when some senior leaders of the party decided to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA, the party split into many factions. Many secular leaders including the Late Madhu Dandawate joined the Janata Dal (Secular) faction headed by Deve Gowda who became the National president of the this faction.
He was defeated in the 1999 general elections but staged a comeback by winning the Kanakapura By-elections in 2002.
The 2004 elections in Karnataka witnessed the revival of his party’s fortunes with the Janata Dal (Secular) winning 58 seats and becoming a part of the ruling coalition in the state. Later, the party joined hands with the BJP and formed an alternate government in 2006. His son H. D. Kumaraswamy headed the popular BJP-JDS coalition government in the state for 20 months. In the 2008 state elections, the party performed poorly and won just 28 seats but has remained a significant force in the South Karnataka.


Atal Bihari Vajpayee (born 25 December 1924 in Gwalior) is an Indian statesman who was the10th Prime Minister of India, first for 13 days in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004. A leader of thecentre-right Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he is the only Prime Minister from outside the Indian National Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of India's Parliament) nine times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha (upper house). He also served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Vajpayee was one amongst the founder members of erstwhile Jana Sangh and had been its president also. He was also the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Morarji Desai. When Janata government collapsed, Vajpayee renamed his former party Jana Sangh as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Vajpayee is often regarded as one of the best prime ministers of India.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December 1924 in a respected middle class Brahmin family. His birthplace was Shinde Ki Chhavani area inGwalior district of Madhya Pradesh (then part of the princely state of Gwalior). His grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, had migrated to Gwalior from his ancestral village of Bateshwar, Uttar Pradesh and his father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, was a poet and a schoolmaster in his hometown. Vajpayee did his schooling from the Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gorkha, Bara, Gwalior. Vajpayee attended Gwalior's Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College) and graduated with distinctions in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He completed his post-graduation with an M.A. in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur, securing first-class.Later he became a full-time worker of the Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). For a while Vajpayee studied law, but midstream he chose to become a journalist. This choice was largely influenced by the fact that as a student he had been an activist in India's struggle for freedom. He edited Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. Like other full-time workers of the Sangh, Vajpayee never married and remained bachelor for his entire life.
                                                                                                                                                                    Early life and education                                                                                                                                   Early political career

Vajpayee's first tryst with politics occurred in August 1942, when he and his elder brother Prem were arrested for 23 days during the Quit India movement.
In 1951, he was deputed to work for the newly formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a right-wing political party associated with the RSS that espoused the Hindu cause. He soon became a close follower and aide of party leader Syama Prasad Mookerjee. In 1954 Vajpayee was with Mookerjee when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir to protest against perceived inferior treatment of non-Kashmiri Indian visitors to the state. Mookerjee died in prison during this strike. In 1957, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament, where his oratorical skills so impressed Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he predicted that Vajpayee would someday become India's Prime Minister. By his oratorical and organizing skills, he became the face of the Jana Sangh. After the tragic death of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the mantle of the leadership of Jana Sangh fell on the shoulders of the young Vajpayee. He became the National president of the Jana Sangh in 1968 and along with Nanaji DeshmukhBalraj Madhok and Lal Krishna Advani led Jana Sangh to national prominence.

The Janata Party was dissolved soon after Morarji Desai resigned as Prime Minister in 1979. The Jana Sangh had devoted its political organization to sustain the coalition and was left exhausted by the internecine political wars within the Janata Party.
From 1975 to 1977, Vajpayee was arrested along with several other opposition leaders during theInternal Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congressparty. In 1977, heeding the call of social reformer Jayaprakash Narayan for all the opposition parties to unite against the Congress, Vajpayee merged the Jana Sangh into the newly formed grand-alliance, the Janata Party. Following Janata's victory in the 1977 general elections, he became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desai's cabinet. As foreign minister, that year Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi. By the time the Janata government crumbled in 1979, Vajpayee had established himself as an experienced statesman and a respected political leader.
Vajpayee joined many of his Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh colleagues, particularly his long-time friends Lal Krishna Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to found the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. He became the BJP's first President. He emerged as a strong critic of the Congress (I) government that followed the Janata government.
While the BJP opposed the Sikh militancy that was rising in the state of Punjab, it also blamed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her divisive and corrupt politics that fostered such militancy at the expense of national unity and integrity. The BJP did not support Operation Bluestarand strongly protested against the violence towards Sikhs in Delhi that broke out in 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. The BJP was left with only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections. However, the party had established itself in the mainstream of Indian politics and soon began expanding its organization to attract young Indians throughout the country. During this period, Vajpayee remained at the centre-stage as party President and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament.
The BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement, which was led by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) and the RSS, and which sought to build a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at the site of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. Hindus believed that the site was the birthplace of Rama, and thus qualified as one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism.
                                                                                                                                                                              As Prime Minister of India
Victory in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Maharashtra in March 1995, and a good performance in the elections to the Karnatakaassembly in December 1994, propelled the BJP to greater political prominence. During a BJP conference in Mumbai in November 1995, BJP President L.K. Advani declared that Vajpayee would become the Prime Minister of India the BJP won in the May 1996 parliamentary elections.
                                                                                                                                                                      First term: May 1996
Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India from 1996 to 2004 in three non-consecutive terms.
                                                                                                                                                                     Second term: 1998–1999
The BJP grew in strength in the early 1990s riding on pro nationalistic sentiments. In the 1996 general elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha. The then president Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Vajpayee to form the government in accordance to the Westminster custom. Vajpayee was sworn in as the 11th Prime Minister of India, but the BJP failed to muster enough support from other parties to obtain a majority. He resigned after just 13 days, when it became clear that he could not garner a majority.
                                                                                                                                                             Nuclear tests
After the fall of the two United Front governments between 1996 and 1998, Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament was dissolved and fresh elections were held. The 1998 general elections again put the BJP ahead of others. This time, a cohesive bloc of political parties joined the BJP to form the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and A.B. Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister. The NDA proved its majority in the parliament. The government lasted 13 months until mid-1999 when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under J. Jayalalitha withdrew its support to the government. The government lost the ensuing vote of confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by a single vote. As the Opposition was unable to come up with the numbers to form the new government, Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament was again dissolved and fresh elections were held. Vajpayee remaining the Prime Minister until the elections were held.

In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan. The five tests shocked and surprised the world, especially considering that the government had been in power for only a month. Two weeks later, Pakistan responded with its own nuclear tests making it the newest declared nation with nuclear weapons.
While some nations, such as Russia and France, endorsed India's right to defensive nuclear power, others including the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain and the European Union imposed sanctions on information, resources and technology to India. In spite of the intense international criticism and the steady decline in foreign investment and trade, the nuclear tests were popular domestically and Vajpayee's popularity as well as the BJP's prestige rose in response.

[edit]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. The resultant Lahore Declaration espoused a commitment to dialogue, expanded trade relations and mutual friendship and envisaged a goal of denuclearized South Asia. 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.
The Vajpayee-led government was faced with two crises in mid 1999. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had continually threatened to withdraw from the coalition and national leaders repeatedly flew down from Delhi to Chennai to pacify the AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha. However, in May 1999, the AIADMK did pull the plug on the NDA, and the Vajpayee administration was reduced to a caretaker status pending fresh elections scheduled for October 1999.

[edit]Kargil War

In a stunning development soon after, it was revealed that militants and non-uniformed Pakistani soldiers (many with official identifications andPakistan Army's custom weaponry) had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured control of border hilltops, unmanned border posts and were spreading out fast. The incursion was centered around the town of Kargil, but also included the Batalik and Akhnoor sectors and include artillery exchanges at the Siachen Glacier.
Indian army units were swiftly rushed into Kashmir in response. Operation Vijay (1999), launched in June 1999, saw the Indian military fighting thousands of militants and soldiers amidst heavy artillery shelling and while facing extremely cold weather, snow and treacherous terrain at the high altitude. Over 500 Indian soldiers were killed in the three-month long Kargil War, and it is estimated around 600-4,000 Pakistani militants and soldiers died as well. India pushed back the Pakistani militants and Northern Light Infantry soldiers. Almost 70% of the territory was recaptured by India. With news of Pakistan planning to launch a nuclear attack in the face of a loss in the war with India, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was summoned to the US by Bill Clinton and warned against any such mis-adventure. After heavy losses and a recalcitrant general in Musharraf, and with both the United States and China refusing to condone the incursion or threaten India to stop its military operations, Nawaz Sharif asked the remaining militants to stop and withdraw to positions along the LoC. The militants were not willing to accept orders from Sharif while the NLI soldiers withdrew. The militants were killed by the army or forced to withdraw in skirmishes which went beyond the announcement of withdrawal by Pakistan. The victory in Kargil bolstered the image of Vajpayee and he was hailed across the country for his bold and strong leadership. It also, gave a tremendous boost to the morale of the Indian public and bolstered National pride. On 26 July 2012, marked as the `Kargil Vijay Diwas', Nitin Gadkari, BJP President unveiled in Mumbai a wax statue of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the Prime Minister at the time of Kargil war. The statue would be put up at a wax museum in Lonavala.

[edit]Third term: 1999–2004

In the 1999 General elections, the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, in the aftermath of the Kargil operations,thereby securing a comfortable and stable majority. On 13 October 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time. The coalition government that was formed lasted its full term of 5 years – the only non-Congress government to do so.

[edit]Indian Airlines hijack

A national crisis emerged in December 1999, when Indian Airlines flight (IC 814) en-route Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked by five terrorists and flown to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The hijackers made several demands including the release of certain terrorists likeMaulana Masood Azhar from prison. Under extreme pressure from opposition parties and public, for the safe release of the hostages, the government ultimately caved in. Jaswant Singh, the then Indian External Affairs ministe flew with the terrorists to Afghanistan and exchanged them for the passengers.

During his administration, Vajpayee introduced many important economic and infrastructural reforms domestically including, encouraging the private sector and foreign investments; reducing governmental waste; encouraging research and development and privatization of some government owned corporations.[14]

[edit]National highways development project, foreign policy and economic reforms

Vajpayee's pet projects were the National Highway Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, two high profile and popular projects in which he took a personal interest.
In March 2000, Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, paid a state visit to India. His was the first state visit to India by a US President in the past 22 years. President Clinton's visit to India was hailed as a significant milestone in the relations between the two countries. Since the visit followed barely two years after the Pokhran tests, and one year after the Kargil invasion and the subsequent coup in Pakistan, it was read to reflect a major shift in the post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy. The Indian Prime Minister and the U.S. President discussed strategic issues, but the major achievement was a significant expansion in trade and economic ties. The Historic Vision Document on the future course of relations between the two countries was signed by Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Clinton during the visit.
Domestically, the BJP-led government was under constant pressure from its ideological mentor, the RSS, and the hard-line VHP to enact theHindutva agenda. But owing to its dependence on coalition support, it was impossible for the BJP to push items like building the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya, repealing Article 370 which gave a special status to the state of Kashmir, or enacting a uniform civil code applicable to adherents of all religions. The BJP was however accused of saffronising (Saffron is the color of the flag of the RSS, symbol of the Hindu nationalism movement) the official state education curriculum and apparatus. Also, Home Minister L.K. Advani and HRD ministerMurli Manohar Joshi were indicted in the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition case for inciting a mob of activists. The RSS also routinely criticized the government for free-market policies which introduced foreign goods and competition at the expense of 'swadeshi' industries and products.
Vajpayee's administration earned the ire of many trade unions and government workers for its aggressive campaign to privatize government owned corporations. Vajpayee promoted pro-business, free market reforms to reinvigorate India's economic transformation and expansion that were started by the former PM Narasimha Rao but stalled after 1996 due to unstable governments and the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Increased competitiveness, extra funding and support for the information technology sector and high-tech industries, improvements in infrastructure, deregulation of trade, investments and corporate laws - all increased foreign capital investment and set in motion an economic expansion.

In March 2001, the Tehelka group released incriminating videos of the BJP President Bangaru Laxman, senior army officers and NDA members accepting bribes from journalists posing as agents and businessmen. The Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to resign following the Barak Missile Deal Scandal, another scandal involving the botched supplies of coffins for the soldiers killed in Kargil, and the finding of an inquiry commission that the Government could have prevented the Kargil invasion. These developments as well as an ambiguous response of the economy to the reforms, reduced the Vajpayee administration's popularity and undermined its future
These couple of years of reform however were accompanied by infighting in the administration and confusion regarding the direction of government.Vajpayee's weakening health was also a subject of public interest, and he underwent a major knee-replacement surgery at the Breach Candy Hospitalin Mumbai to relieve great pressure on his legs.
Vajpayee again broke the ice in the Indo-Pak relations by inviting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Delhi and Agra for a joint summit and peace talks. His second major attempt to move beyond the stalemate involved inviting the man who had planned the Kargil invasions. But accepting him as the President of Pakistan, Vajpayee chose to move forward. But after three days of much fanfare, which included Musharraf visiting his birthplace in Delhi, the summit failed to achieve a breakthrough as President Musharraf declined to leave aside the issue ofKashmir.
In 2001, the Vajpayee government launched the famous Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which aimed at improving the quality of education in primary and secondary schools.

[edit]2001 attack on Parliament

On 13 December 2001, a group of masked, armed men with fake IDs stormed the 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. Coming just three months after the September 11 attacks upon the United States, this fresh escalation instantly enraged the nation. Although the Government of Pakistan officially condemned the attack, Indian intelligence reports pointed to a conspiracy rooted in Pakistan. 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 anti-terrorist campaign froze day-to-day life in Kashmir, and foreigners flocked out of both India and Pakistan, fearing a possible war and nuclear exchange. For as long as two years, both nations remained perilously close to a terrible war.
The Vajpayee administration also passed the Prevention of Terrorist Act against vigorous opposition of non-NDA parties. Human rights groups have condemned the act which gives wide authority to the government to crack down and hold anybody. Its repeal was advocated by human rights organisations.
But the biggest political disaster hit his government between December 2001 and March 2002: the VHP held the Government hostage in a major standoff in Ayodhya over the Ram Mandir. At the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri mosque, the VHP wanted to perform ashila daan, or a ceremony laying the foundation stone of the cherished temple at the disputed site. Tens of thousands of VHP activists amassed and threatened to overrun the site and forcibly build the temple. A grave threat of not only communal violence, but an outright breakdown of law and order owing to the defiance of the government by a religious organization hung over the nation.[5] But to the relief of Vajpayee, this crisis tided over rather smoothly.

[edit]Remainder of term

In late 2002 and 2003 the government pushed economic reforms, and the country's GDP growth accelerated at record levels, exceeding 6–7%. Increasing foreign investment, modernization of public and industrial infrastructure, the creation of jobs, a rising high-tech and IT industry and urban modernization and expansion improved the nation's inter-national image. Good crop harvests and strong industrial expansion also helped the economy. The Government reformed the tax system, increased the pace of reforms and pro-business initiatives, major irrigation and housing schemes and so on. The political energies of the BJP shifted to the rising urban middle-class and young people, who were positive and enthusiastic about the major economic expansion and future of the country. He faced stiff opposition from other equally strong originations within Sangh Parivar such as Bharatiya Mazdoor SanghBharatiya Kisan Sangh. However, he continued with his aggressive economic reform policy. In August 2003, He announced before Parliament his "absolute last" effort to achieve peace with Pakistan. Although the diplomatic process never truly set-off immediately, visits were exchanged by high-level officials and the military stand-off ended. The Pakistani President and Pakistani politicians, civil and religious leaders hailed this initiative as did the leaders of America, Europe and much of the world. In July 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee, visited China, and met with various Chinese leaders. He recognized Tibet, as a part of China, which was welcomed by the Chinese leadership, who in the following year, recognized Sikkim, as a part of India. Sino-Indian Relations, improved greatly, in the following years.
In November–December 2003, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won three major state elections, fought mainly on development issues, without ideological campaigns. A major public relations campaign was launched to reach out to Muslims and stop the 2002 communal riots controversy from haunting the party's future. But the attention of the media and of millions now moved from Vajpayee to his more possible successor, L.K. Advani, although the question was never directly raised or contested in any way. Vajpayee's age, failing health and diminished physical and mental vigor were obvious factors in such speculations. Advani assumed greater responsibilities in the party, and although no perceivable conflict has been known to arise between the longtime friends and political colleagues, several embarrassing statements were made. Once Vajpayee said "Advani would lead the BJP in the elections," prompting Advani to clarify that he would merely lead the election campaign, not the party. And then the BJP President Venkaiah Naidu used mythological references to depict Vajpayee asVikas Purush (Man of Progress) and Advani as Loh Purush(Man of Steel).
As the BJP prepared for general elections in 2004, Vajpayee was still the choice of the BJP and of the wider NDA, for the Prime Minister's job.

[edit]2004 general election

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was widely expected to retain power after the 2004 general election. The 13th Lok Sabha had been dissolved before the completion of its term to capitalize on the perceived 'Feel-good factor' and BJP's recent successes in the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The BJP hoped to capitalise on the slogan "India Shining" and released many ads touting the economic growth of the nation.
However, the coalition sidestepped controversial and ideological issues in favour of economic and security issues during the campaign and subsequently lost almost half its seats, with several prominent cabinet ministers being defeated. The Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi became the single largest party and, along with many minor parties, formed the United Progressive Alliance. With the conditional support of the leftist parties from the outside, the UPA formed a government under Dr Manmohan Singh. Vajpayee resigned as Prime minister and promised co-operation to the new government.
Vajpayee was criticized within his party and by the Sangh Parivar for sacrificing core issues like Hindutva and the Ram Temple to please the Muslim voters (the BJP lost the Muslim vote by a heavy margin) Accepting moral responsibility for the defeat, he decided not to take up the position of the Leader of the Opposition and passed on the leadership mantle to Lal Krishna Advani. However, he retained his post as Chairman of the NDA

[edit]Later career

In December 2005, Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics, declaring that he would not contest in the next general election. In a famous statement at the BJP's silver Jubilee rally at Mumbai's historic Shivaji Park, Vajpayee announced that "Henceforth, Lal Krishna Advani and Pramod Mahajan will be the Ram-Laxman (the two godly brothers much revered and worshipped by Hindus) of the BJP.
Vajpayee was referred to as the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Politics by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his speech in the Rajya Sabha.
Vajpayee was hospitalized at AIIMS for chest infection and fever on 6 February 2009. He was put on ventilator support as his condition worsened but he eventually recuperated and was later, discharged. Unable to participate in the campaign for the 2009 general election due to his poor health, he wrote a letter urging voters to back the BJP. His protege Lalji Tandon was able to retain the Lucknow seat even though the NDA suffered electoral reverses allover the country. The tall apolitical image of Vajpayee was said to be the main reason behind Lalji's success in Lucknow even though BJP's performance was poor elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh.

[edit]Personal life, and interests

'Baapji' as affectionately called by his close friends and relatives has two adopted daughters Namita and Neharika. He is fond of Indian music and dance. He loves nature and one of his favorite retreats is Manali in Himachal Pradesh. . Vajpayee has remained a bachelor though his life and little is known of his love life.
Vajpayee has expressed very clear thoughts about his poetry: "My poetry is a declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier's drumbeat of despair, but the fighting warrior's will to win. It is not the despirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory.

[edit]Travel and bureaucratic interests

He has special interest for international affairs, uplift of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and woman and child welfare. Reading, writing, travelling and cooking have remained his favorite pastime and recreation activities.
Vajpayee is also widely travelled having visited several countries, the first being in 1965 as Member of Parliamentary Goodwill Mission to East Africa. He was also part of the Parliamentary Delegations to Australia, 1967; European Parliament, 1983; and Canada, 1987. He was part of the official Indian Delegation to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings held in Canada, 1966 and 1994, Zambia 1980, and Isle of Man 1984.
He was on Indian Delegation to Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference, Japan, 1974; Sri Lanka, 1975; and Switzerland, 1984. He had been regular to the UN General Assembly as part of Indian Delegation in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. He led the Indian Delegation to Human Rights Commission Meeting at Geneva in 1993 and Delegation of Standing Committees of External Affairs to Gulf countries i.e. Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.