By Onkar Singh
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee was the one of the tallest political leader in the post independence era. Soft spoken Vajpayee would at times target even his colleagues through double meaning sentence as he did in case of his lifelong friend L.K.Advani. Vajpayeeji while speaking on Pervez Mushraf said while we were talking Advaniji sent an official to find out that we were talking or having panipuri,’ he told in Lok Sabha.
I have had the honour of knowing him from close quarters. While doing a piece on Punjab for illustrated weekly of India, I called at 10 p.m he came on line and replied to questions. My next meeting took place soon after 1984 anti Sikh riots. He was standing at the gate. After I greeted him and gave me credentials he took me inside and offered tea. He told me how he took stand and called police to chase hoolgans away and protected Sikh taxi drivers. Few weeks later he was admitted in All India Institute of Medical Sciences with one of his legs being held by pullies. Though injured he had full control over humor. When I asked him what will be party’s response if congress showed them hand. We will show them our legs.
I travelled to Gwalior where he was a party candidate against Madhavrao Scindia. When I reached his office Shiv Kumar his PA told me to wait. Vajpayee returned from public rally he gave answers to few important questions. He lost the elections. My last meeting with Atalji was in 1995 when a new television channel was doing trial run. Late Chaman Bhardwaj told me to use my contacts and record an interview. He not just gave interview but also recorded three of his best poem. I was happy so was Bharwaj sahib. When Vajpayeeji took over as prime minister for 13 days I and Bhardwaj was pleased. He ordered to look for the tape. Feroz journalist had erased the tape.