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When Atal Bihari Vajpayee searched for Nehru

Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had an unsaid connection with the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. There was a time when he went looking for Pandit Nehru's portrait that went missing from the parliament's South Block.

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When Atal Bihari Vajpayee searched for Nehru

Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had an unsaid connection with the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. There was a time when he went looking for Pandit Nehru's portrait that went missing from the parliament's South Block.

Years later, during a parliament speech he recalled the entire incident. In late 70s, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was given the profile of foreign minister, he noticed that one of Pandit Nehru's pictures was missing from the gallery.

"Friends in Congress may not believe this, but a portrait of Nehru would hang in South Block. I would see it whenever I passed by," he had said in his speech. "I then asked where did it (portrait) go? I got no reply. That portrait was restored," Vajpayee had said, drawing applause in the House.

To inculcate a spirit of democracy in fellow parliamentarians, Vajpayee then asked if people respected such sentiments. "Should such sentiments germinate? (Kya is bhavna ki kadra hai? Kya is desh mey ye bhavna panpe?)"

He went on reminiscing about the days when he had conflicts with Pandit Nehru but they still shared a warm relationship. "It is not that there were no difference of opinion between us. And, it would surface seriously during discussions," he said.

"Once I had told Panditji that his personality was mixed in nature, and that there was both a (Winston) Churchill and a (Neville) Chamberlain in him," the veteran politician said, adding that Nehru was "not upset" at that.

"In the evening, I met him at a banquet, and he (Nehru) told me it was a solid speech and walked away smiling. Today, to do such criticism is to invite enmity. People will stop talking," Vajpayee had said.

The 10th Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on Thursday, after a prolonged bout with various life-threatening diseases. He suffered from kidney tract infection, urinary tract infection and respiratory problems. In 2009, after a major stroke, the leader known for his oratorical skills found it difficult to converse. In June this year, he was admitted to AIIMS.

Edited by Danny D'Cruze

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