Was Atal Bihari Vajpayee great leader?
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (born 25 December 1924 in Gwalior) is an Indian statesman who was the 10th Prime Minister of India, first for 13 days in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004. A leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he is the only Prime Minister from outside the Indian National Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
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
A national crisis emerged in December 1999, when Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from 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 like Maulana 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 Minister for External Affairs at the time, flew with the terrorists to Afghanistan and exchanged them for the passengers.
During his administration, Vajpayee introduced many domestic economic and infrastructural reforms, including encouraging the private sector and foreign investments, reducing governmental waste, encouraging research and development and privatisation of some government owned corporations.
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 mobilisation 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.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s involvement in Satyendra Dubey’s Murder.
Satyendra Dubey (1973-2003) was a project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). He was murdered in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project.
Meanwhile, faced with the possibility of high-level corruption within the NHAI, Dubey wrote directly to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, detailing the financial and contractual irregularities in the project. While the letter was not signed, he attached a separate bio-data so that the matter would be taken more seriously. Despite a direct request that his identity be kept secret and despite the letter’s sensitive content, accusing some of Dubey’s superiors, the letter along with bio-data was forwarded immediately to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Dubey also sent the same letter to the Chairman of the NHAI. Soon Dubey received a reprimand: the vigilance office of NHAI officially cautioned Dubey for the impropriety of writing a letter directly to the Prime minister. In the process, through connections in the NHAI and the Ministry.
The letter said the NHAI officials showed a great hurry in giving mobilisation advance to selected contractors for financial consideration. "In some cases the contractors have been given mobilisation advance just a day after signing the contract agreement."
"The entire mobilisation advance of 10 per cent of contract value, which goes up to Rs 40 crore (USD 10 million) in certain cases, are paid to contractors within a few weeks of award of work but there is little follow up to ensure that they are actually mobilised at the site with the same pace, and the result is that the advance remains lying with contractors or gets diverted to their other activities," it said.
Dubey also highlighted the problems of sub-contracting by the primary contractors like Larsen and Toubro.
"Though the NHAI is going for international competitive bidding to procure the most competent civil contractors for execution of its projects, when it comes to actual execution, it is found that most of the works, sometimes even up to 100 per cent are subcontracted to petty contractors incapable of executing such big projects," he said. "A dream project of unparalleled importance to the Nation but in reality a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state." wrote Dubey. Finally, he ends: "I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me," the letter said.