Vajpayee, Atal Bihari

Vajpayee, Atal Bihari

(ä`täl bihär`ē väj`pī'), 1926–2018, Indian politician, prime minister of India (1996, 1998–2004). He began his career as a journalist, entering politics as an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate in 1950. He was (1951) a founding member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the Hindu nationalist precursor of the Bharatiya Janata partyBharatiya Janata party
[Hindi,=Indian People's party] (BJP), Indian political party that espouses Hindu nationalism. The BJP draws its Hindu nationalist creed from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Self-Service Organization), a group founded in 1925 in opposition to
..... Click the link for more information.
 (BJP). An able orator, Vajpayee won election to parliament in 1957; in 1975 he was imprisoned for opposing Prime Minister Indira GandhiGandhi, Indira
, 1917–84, Indian political leader; daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. She served as an aide to her father, who was prime minister (1947–64), and as minister of information in the government of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–66).
..... Click the link for more information.
's state of emergency. During the tenure (1977–79) of the coalition government that defeated Gandhi and her party, Vajpayee served as foreign minister; he subsequently became the president (1980–86) of the newly formed BJP. When the BJP won a parliamentary plurality in 1996, Vajpayee became prime minister; failing to form a coalition, he resigned 13 days later. After the 1998 elections gave the BJP greater representation in parliament, Vajpayee again became prime minister; he was returned to office in 1999. Vajpayee softened some of the more strident nationalist and anti-Muslim rhetoric of other BJP members and continued the free-market reforms begun by preceding governments. His government also strongly supported the development of India as a nuclear power; several nuclear tests were conducted in 1998. After the BJP's loss in the 2004 elections Vajpayee declined to serve as opposition leader; he retired from parliament in 2009. He wrote a number of books, including collections of his speeches, a work on Indian foreign policy, and Hindi poetry.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/