10 Lessons To Learn From Atal Bihari Vajpayee

1. Your birthplace does not define your future

Don’t let it bother yourself if you were not born in a big city. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born in Gwalior and went on to become the prime minister of India three times.

2. Your future is not dependent on what your parents did for a living.

Your parents may not be rich and powerful, but why should you let that affect your dreams? Vajpayee’s father Krishna Bihari Vajpayee was a schoolmaster and his mother Krishna Devi a housewife.

3. Believe in what you believe

A year after India won its freedom, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was banned. Vajpayee, a member of the RSS, never gave up on his ideology. He was a founder member of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (the political parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party). Like Vajpayee, don’t let the world’s opinion affect you. If you believe in something, stick with it even if the world thinks you are wrong.

4. No mentor? Don’t let it hamper you

Syama Prasad Mookerjee ( founder of Jan Sangh ) died in Kashmir in 1953. Vajpayee was 29 years old when he lost his mentor. Even as he mourned Mookerjee’s untimely death, Vajpayee carried on his party work with other leaders. Having a mentor can make your path easier, but, like Vajpayee, you can forge ahead even if you don’t have one.

5. Be patient, success will come

The BJP was reduced to 2 seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha election. Vajpayee who lost that election stayed politically relevant even though he was sidelined by Advani. He stepped aside and at the BJP’s national convention in Mumbai in 1995, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was appointed as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Remember, if you feel all is lost, don’t give up. Continue to work hard, and know that time will come when you will reap your just rewards.

6. Know when to cut your losses

In the 1996 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 161 seats and emerged as the single largest party. But it was short of 111 seats needed to form a government. The BJP could not prove its majority on the floor of the House. So, within 13 days of forming the government, Vajpayee resigned as prime minister. When faced with a difficult situation, it is sometimes better to withdraw so that you can return to fight and succeed another day.

7. Learn from the past

In the 1998 election, the BJP won 182 seats. Again, it was short of a majority. He roughly assembled together an alliance with 13 partners under the banner of the National Democratic Alliance and went on to form the government. If you don’t succeed once, it does not mean you will not succeed again. Plan carefully and gather together people who will support you.

8. Don’t be afraid of taking bold decisions

A few months after he became prime minister a second time, Vajpayee decided India needed to conduct a second nuclear test. He planned for the international political fallout of his decision so that the impact on India did not damage the nation. During the Kargil war in 1999, he remained firm that India would not give in to Pakistan’s aggression and cede territory. When it is necessary, it is important to take a stand for what you value. At this time, you may need to make some hard decisions. Don’t shy away from the responsibility.

9. Can issues be resolved peacefully? Try your best

Despite his best intentions, Vajpayee was twice betrayed by Pakistan but did not give up on his dream of a harmonious relationship with India’s neighbour. If the goal is important enough, keep trying. India may not have succeeded in making peace with Pakistan, but it is possible that you will achieve your goal.

10. Never give up

In 1998, the Vajpayee government lost the no-confidence motion by a single vote. Vajpayee refused to give up. The BJP contested the 1999 election with physical strength and won. Sometimes, all you need is belief and hard work. That will lead you to success.

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