Giridih: Success, they say, gets you many relatives so it was with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, three-time Prime Minister of India, who breathed his last on Thursday in Delhi.
Seeking their share of 30 second of fame when the 93-year-old leader died were a number of BJP and Jan Sangh karyakatas, while several from this city recalled how close they were with the stalwart during his active politics days, the era when Vajpayee helped Jan Sangh Party metamorphise to the present Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Vajpayee had visited Giridih not once but six times between 1965 and 1998.
“He came to Giridih for the first time in the year 1965. It was to campaign for Jan Sangh candidate Kamal Pant Ram. Following which he kept visiting Giridih till 1998, on one or other occasion,” Lallu Ram, a BJP worker, who was earlier with Jan Sangh, told eNewsroom.
“He visited Giridih, at least six times, even after becoming the Prime Minister of India, he came here,” recalled Ram.
No other Indian leader of his stature had visited Giridih for these many time. And there are some interesting stories associated with Vajpayee’s Giridih tours.
“During the 1979’s visit, when Atal ji was to hold a meeting at Palgunj in Pirtand, a naxal infested area, around 30 kilometers away from district headquarters. He had only one pair of cloth (dhoti-kurta) to wear. So, he asked how his clothes could be cleaned? Following which, I volunteered and said that I would do it. He asked if there was no laundry shop in the town? To which I said that it would be a matter of immense pride to wash his clothes. Later, I washed his dhoti-kurta and pressed it, something that he remembered for a long time,” claimed Babul Prasad Gupta, a BJP worker.
Interestingly, Gupta’s claim has been refuted by Ram.
“The clothes of Atal ji was washed here, as he had only single pair of cloth with him at that time, but it was not Babul Gupta, it was Bola Ram who had washed Atal ji’s clothes,” said Ram. He even explained, “Bola was given the work, as his house was close to the circuit house where Atal Ji had stayed during,” he said.
Significantly, a senior BJP leader, who was Maha Mantri at that time, and in-charge of all the activities during the stay of Vajpayee, who can clear the air, did not want to comment on the issue.
There are also stories of Vajpayee’s soft and caring nature. Senior journalist Kamal Nayan Chaparia, who was once a member of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parisad (ABVP) have served food to Vajpayee during his 1981 visit recalled, “I was very young then, and in excitement, I had put one extra phulka on his plate, at a time when he had finished his dinner, but on seeing the phulka on his plate, he had said that since I had served it with so much love, he would have it.”
“Once he was in Bermo district of Jharkhand, when he remembered that he used to have a friend who was a trade union leader in Giridih, so he changed his schedule programme and came to Giridih to meet him,” added Kamal Nayan.
During his 1979 visit, one party worker who was following his car, met with an accident. Vajpayee took the injured person to the hospital in his car.