Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Vajpayee-ji's death is a personal loss for me

By Syed Shahnawaz Hussain | Updated: Aug 17, 2018 00:56 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug. 16 (ANI): The demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a great loss for the nation. He was one of the tallest leaders in contemporary India. It is a deep and personal loss for me. He handpicked me and gave me important responsibilities at a young age. He is etched in my heart forever.
My first and private meeting with Atal ji took place in 1987. Since then several memories are associated with him. He was not only an important person for the county but in my personal life too. We can never find a leader, writer and speaker like him.
On December 4, 1997, for the first time I got an opportunity to share the stage with Vajpayee ji. I was not just happy but scared too. But after my speech in that event, I was congratulated by Atal ji which made me feel so proud.
Later, when I won the Lok Sabha election from Bihar's Kishanganj city, Atalj i wished me on my success. Also, when Atalj i took oath as Prime Minister in 1999, he made me the Minister of State and later Cabinet Minister. I then became the youngest cabinet minister of India.
Also in 2001, when I was the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Atal ji telephoned and surprised me by saying that he was going to make me the Coal Minister with independent charge. This was the happiest day of my life.
Atal ji's visionary schemes like 'Gram Sadak Yojana' changed the rural landscape, becoming the harbinger of development in the villages.
After the formation of the NDA government, Atal ji was the first to organise an Iftar party at his residence but later he told me that "if you keep fast for Ramzan, then the Iftar party will take place at your residence." Since then I have been organising the Iftar party at my residence. Atal ji had given a statement on Ayodhya issue to a journalist at the Iftar party which later created a row in Parliament.
Atal ji's influence on his party members was so great that whenever some dispute erupted, he was always there to resolve it. I remember that there was a small report about a madarsa. I along with many Muslim intellectuals went to meet Atla ji on the issue. Atal ji was the only one to support it and this entire dispute ended smoothly.
The Atal ji-led NDA government did great work from 1999 to 2004. Many extraordinary plans such as the Golden Quadrilateral Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, and the telecom revolution began at this time. (ANI)
(Syed Shahnawaz Hussain was a Cabinet Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet from 1999-2004)