A day after India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day on August 15, tragic news of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise hit the entire nation. PM Narendra Modi termed this ‘the end of an era’. India lost a beloved leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had mentored many leaders while breaking initiatives for the nation and serving as the prime minister three times.

Vajpayee (1924-2018) was a man of the masses and was a politician known for his firm conviction. His gentlemanly demeanour sure made him a people’s leader. On this sad occasion, we at MyNation take you down the memory lane.

1. Vajpayee’s ancestral village is in Bateshwar, Agra and his grandfather, Pandit Shyam Lal Vajpayee, migrated to Morena in Madhya Pradesh from Bateshwar.

2. As a teenager, Vajpayee was jailed for a short period of time because he had opposed the colonial rule.

3. His first activism started with Arya Kumar Sabha in Gwalior.

4. He initially had a tryst with communism before joining the RSS in 1939 under the influence of Babasaheb Apte.

5. In 1942, Vajpayee and his elder brother Prem were in custody of the British Government for 23 days, for being part of the Quit India Movement.

6. He and his father went to the same law college (DAV in Kanpur) together for studies and they were roommates in the hostel as well.

7. He always wanted to be a journalist and this dream of his came true when he was sent to Uttar Pradesh to work for Deendayal Upadhyaya’s newspapers - Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Veer Arjun and  Swadesh.

8. Vajpayee became a lifelong supporter and aide to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (founder of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh). He was a broken man when Mukherjee died during the 1953 protest.

9. In the second General Elections held in the year 1957, he contested for the first time from two constituencies - Mathura and Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh. He lost the Mathura seat to Raja Mahendra Pratap and won the other seat.

10. Vajpayee was fondly remembered for his oratory skills. But it was the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who upon hearing his maiden speech in the parliament in 1957, predicted that someday Vajpayee would be the prime minister of India.

11. Vajpayee served in the Lok Sabha for 10 terms that began in 1957 and ended in 2009.

12. He was the first head of the government, the prime minister, who got to serve his full term in spite of not being a member of the Congress party.

13. He became the prime minister of India three times - first on May 16, 1996 for 13 days only, second on March 19, 1998 for 13 months and third time on October 13, 1999 for a full 5-year term.

14. He was the reason behind the success of Pokharan nuclear tests conducted on May 13, 1998, titled ‘Operation Shakti’, which ensured that India became part of the elite world nuclear powers.

15. In order to build a strong relation with Pakistan, he took a bus journey named- Sada-e-Sarhad to Lahore on February 19, 1999.

16.  Other than the fact that he was a beloved of the Indian masses, he is the only parliamentarian to be elected from 4 different Indian States- Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

17. He was one of the longest serving parliamentarians. He remained an MP (Member of Parliament) for 47 years (11 times from Lok Sabha and 2 times from Rajya Sabha).

18. He gave Hindi an unforetold and unforeseen recognition on the international front as he became the first Indian to deliver a speech in Hindi at the United Nations.

19. He was also a Hindi poet of repute and always maintained that his interest was never politics, but poetry.

20. On December 24, 2014, Government of India announced to honour him with India’s highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna. In a special gesture, president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, conferred him the award at his residence on March 27, 2015.