Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a bigger leader than the leaders of India’s freedom struggle – Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee has termed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a greater leader than the leaders of India’s freedom struggle. Praising Bangabandhu’s leadership with reverence, he said in an interview with Bangladeshi journalist Musa Sadiq, “Sheikh Mujib was a much greater leader than all those who were at the forefront of India’s freedom struggle and under whose leadership India achieved independence.” Your leader (Bangabandhu) can only be compared to Netaji Subhash Bose of India, who wanted to snatch India’s independence by waging a liberation war like Bangladesh. ‘

অটল বিহারি বাজপেয়ী | Atal Bihari Vajpayee
অটল বিহারি বাজপেয়ী | Atal Bihari Vajpayee

On May 25, 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee sat in India and spoke openly about Bangladesh and the War of Liberation. He further told the Bangladeshi journalist, “Let your freedom fighters know that I have said that your Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a much bigger leader than many other leaders in the world.” He is a much bigger leader than Muhammad Ali Jinnah of Pakistan.

Even Sheikh Mujib was a much greater leader than those who were at the forefront of India’s freedom struggle and under whose leadership India achieved independence. It may be recalled that the proposal for the recognition of Bangladesh was first raised by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Lok Sabha of India in 1971.

Asked about the explanation of his remarks about Bangabandhu, he said, ‘Are you a boy, haven’t you read history? You are a freedom fighter, you have seen the liberation war, but who showed you the liberation war? Who made you a freedom fighter? The father of your nation is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But we did not wage a war of liberation for India’s independence.

Our leaders did not allow us to be freedom fighters. Our leaders have compromised, abandoned all rights and demands, surrendered to the British government, and taken India’s independence as a gift. But your heroic Bengali father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has snatched your freedom by waging a war of liberation. In Afro-Asian countries, in the mountains, in the jungles, those who are still fighting for the liberation war are chanting in his (Bangabandhu’s) name. They are getting the inspiration of the liberation war with the sound of his name.

It is for this historical reason that the father of your nation has surpassed all the top leaders of Pakistan and India. The truth is very cruel, that cruel truth I uttered. I’m old enough. I don’t know how long I will live. ‘

অটল বিহারি বাজপেয়ী | Atal Bihari Vajpayee Speaks about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Atal Bihari Vajpayee is considered one of the proverbs of Indian politics. When he was young, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru heard his speech and said, “Vajpayee will one day be the Prime Minister.” That statement came true. Vajpayee has been hailed as one of the most respected figures in Indian politics, regardless of party affiliation.

He is involved in everything from the partition of India to the liberation war of Bangladesh. Such a majestic personality came in the evening of his life and frankly confessed the cruel truth. He has called Bangabandhu as the best leader among the leaders seen in one life. There is no other nationalist leader like Bangabandhu in the history of the world who has simultaneously struggled for democracy for two long decades. Even after liberating a nation from slavery, he has taken the initiative to make democracy meaningful and put a smile on people’s faces.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (25 December 1924 – 16 August 2018) was an Indian statesman who served three terms as the prime minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004. Vajpayee was one of the co-founders and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation. He was the first Indian prime minister not of the Indian National Congress to serve a full term in office. He was also noted as a poet and a writer.

He was a member of the Indian Parliament for over five decades, having been elected ten times to the Lok Sabha, the lower house, and twice to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. He served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, retiring from active politics in 2009 due to health concerns. He was among the founding members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), of which he was president from 1968 to 1972. The BJS merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party, which won the 1977 general election. In March 1977,

Vajpayee became the minister of external affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Morarji Desai. He resigned in 1979, and the Janata alliance collapsed soon after. Former members of the BJS formed the BJP in 1980, with Vajpayee its first president.

During his tenure as prime minister, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee sought to improve diplomatic relations with Pakistan, travelling to Lahore by bus to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engagement with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.

The administration of Narendra Modi declared in 2014 that Vajpayee’s birthday, 25 December, would be marked as Good Governance Day. In 2015, he was conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee. He died on 16 August 2018 of age-related illness.

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