Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Being a big fan of Vajpayee, I constantly keep looking for videos of his speeches or articles throwing new light on his life and principles.

Today, I was reading the transcript of Karan Thapar's interview of Brajesh Mishra in 2009, who was the principal secretary of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999-2004). This excerpt was just brilliant:

Karan Thapar: What was the special quality that Mr Vajpayee had that allowed him to hold a party like the BJP together and a government of 24 members together without any real major problems?

Brajesh Mishra: The first quality that he has is that he is very generous at heart. He never denied anybody the opportunity to speak his or her mind even though it may be critical of him. He dominated the meetings through his silence. Innumerable meetings of the Cabinet, he would keep quiet. Every member who wanted to speak or say were allowed to speak their minds. At the end of session, Mr Vajpayee would say just one sentence -- 'Shall we do it this way?' And that was it. This quality of his was a rare one. That's why I call him a statesman and not a politician. He understands people, he gives them all the opportunity that they want. It's human nature that once you have been given the opportunity to put your say forward, then you tend to be more amiable to decisions being taken.

Karan Thapar:You are clearly saying that both by giving people opportunity to speak and also by his masterful silences where he withheld what he himself would be thinking was actually a master tactician?

Brajesh Mishra: If you want to call him a master tactician, I would say that was something inborn. That was within in nature. Perhaps this tactician business is a by-product of his nature rather than something which he has cultivated deliberately.

Karan Thapar: The second corollary, the first from what you are saying is that because of his character, he always got the better of the sort of person who wants to burst out and speak first.

Brajesh Mishra: Yes.

Karan Thapar: He was never scared of others jumping into the fray wanting to speak and voice their opinion?

Brajesh Mishra: No, never.

Karan Thapar: It seems he got the better of his entire Cabinet?

Brajesh Mishra: I gave you instances. He let everyone speak but at the end he finished it with one sentence.

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