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Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Birthday celebrated as Good Governance Day, comment?.

In the recent memory of our nation, there have been few politicians who have been the recipient of our collective respect and affection as much as Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While there have been numerous other powerful politicians who have dominated the political scene but Shri Vajpayee occupies a special place in the Indian polity. In the quicksand that is the Indian politics, Vajpayee's stature has not just remained firm but actually grown with time. He is admired by politicians across the party lines even if their ideology and their idea of India differ vastly from that of Vajpayee's. He is the only non-congress prime minister to serve a full five year in the office. What makes this achievement even more praiseworthy is the fact that Vajpayee managed this feat by taking along a large number of different political parties. If the BJP led coalition ruled under the arch of NDA or the National Democratic Alliance, Vajpayee played a stellar role in making this coalition both "national" as well as "democratic". One wouldn't be accused of exaggeration if one said that Vajpayee made the BJP much more acceptable to a vast section of society that had till then some misgivings about the party. He was the liberal, the moderate face of the BJP. He re-imagined the party in his own image thereby giving it a pan Indian appeal. No wonder he is referred to as the Bheesma Pitahma of the Indian politics. But the longevity or popularity of his government is not the only yardstick of his greatness. He combined his vast experience as a people's representative with the foresight of a visionary. In the backdrop of the economic meltdown India witnessed some major economic reforms under his leadership. He gave a tremendous boost to India's military capabilities by conducting the Pokhran nuclear test and then steering the economy to greater heights in the face of foreign sanction. He also enhanced India's infrastructural capacity by undertaking the "National Highway Development Project" as well as the "Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana". He also ushered in "Sarva Siksha Abhiyan" which aimed at improving standard of education at the primary and secondary level. While trying to strengthen the state of our domestic affair Vajpayee also provided a much needed impetus to our foreign policy, chiefly in trying to improve relations with our neighbouring countries, of which Pakistan was undoubtedly the most important. This led to the historic "Lahore Declaration" and the starting up off the Delhi-Lahore bus service. But soon after this Pakistan indulged in unprovoked acts of aggression and occupation of the Indian Territory which led to the Kargil war. During these uncertain times Prime Minister Vajpayee showed tremendous fortitude and decisiveness and along with the courage and heroism of our soldiers forced the enemy to admit defeat and retreat. This victory firmly cemented Vajpayee's place in the annals of history. If Narasimha Rao's government was responsible for ushering economic liberation then the Atal Bihari government was the architect of a brave new India. What's makes Vajpayee so likeable and his appeal so enduring is his multi faceted personality. An orator par excellence he had the rare gift of rising above rhetoric and reaching out to his audience, of infusing them with energy and inspiration. Even his poetry is a testament to his admiration and hope for a country that he has served for so long and with distinction. It is important and even necessary to mention here that there has been some controversy over the government's decision to celebrate 25th of December as "good governance day", but it is important to bear in mind that the controversy is regarding anointing a particular day as "good governance day" but that doesn't take anything away from the numerous achievements of Shri Vajpayee. The incumbent government should ensure that celebrating Vajpayee's birthday as good governance must go beyond mere symbolism; the government must provide good governance 365 days a year. That would be a more enduring as well as real tribute to the memory and legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Manas Panda