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Atalji The Man With Most Disarming Smile Had His Last Laugh On This Day

18/08/2021 at 5:13 PM

By DN Singh

News bulletins obviously run with a thrust on the worsening situation in Afghanistan. That is deserving.
But many of us ignore the fact that August 17 was the death anniversary of one of the revered political figures. The former prime minister of India Atal BiharI Vajpayee, who taught the value of patience and smile as a most disarming weapon.

One of my former colleagues and friend today, Law Kumar Mishra, then in a national English daily made a call took me down memory lane. That day we, some journalists,  were all together almost bundled in one car. Following the vehicle of Vajpayee whom every scribe loved to be with. 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee as leader of opposition had visited Bhadrak town in Odisha where communal riots broke out.
He had reached Cuttack railway station from Kolkata with Vishnukant Shastri and Kailashpati Mishra.
Like any ordinary passenger Vajpayee ji had a bath in the waiting room of the railway station and after breakfast of locally available fried delights like ‘vada, samosa etc. Then, he spoke to the officials of Odisha government seeking their permission to visit Bhadrak which was under curfew.

After getting confirmation, he proceeded to Bhadrak,the town where Ramdas Agrawal, long-time treasurer of the party, and Rajya Sabha member had mines. His property was also damaged in riots.
The present union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s father,Devendra Pradhan was president of the state unit of the party and he also joined Vajpayee ji.

Reporters of four news agencies and an English newspaper followed him in another vehicle. As the vehicle reached the outskirts of Bhadrak town,a police gypsy overtook the cavalcade and a young police officer who alighted from the gypsy told Vajpayee ji,  “Only you are allowed, no other vehicle will be allowed.” 

When Vajpayeeji told him that the home secretary of the state had given the permission, even then he did not relent.
Media persons too came out of their vehicles and reached out to Vajpayee ji and introduced themselves.
The young police officer became more firm and told Vajpayee ji that no media person will be allowed to which Vajpayee ji replied, “It appears you want to hide facts from the media” with smile writ on his face. 

However, the police officer did not relent following which Vajpayee ji opened the door of the car, came out, and said “If you do not allow, I will sit on dharna on the national highway, there will be high drama”. The NH 16 connected Kolkatta to Chennai and the parliament session was on.

The Media persons advised the police officer, “Realise the consequences if Vajpayee sits on dharna on the highway, movement of vehicles on NH will be suspended, there will be opposition crying in the Parliament. You may be in trouble”, after which he relented with a frown visible on his face.

After moving into the trouble-affected areas of Bhadrak, Vajpayeeji went to the residence of Ramdas Agarwal for lunch.
He inquired about the police officer and urged him to join for lunch. He however refused. Vajpayeeji politely said,” You are quite young and starting your career. This kind of anger and arrogance is not appropriate for your age. Please join us”. 

With a mix of obligation and solemnity, the young officer joined and one could not miss the glimpses of the exchange of unspoken fusion of love and smile surfaced on both faces. 
That was one of the traits of the enviable and unique characteristics of that great political leader who won the hearts of friends and enemies as well.

After a bout of arguments and a merry yet innocuous exchange of words, Vajpayeeji had fired the bitterness to the backburner.

About the Author:

DN Singh is a Bhubaneswar-based senior journalist.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com

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