New Delhi: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday heaped praises on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying that he was the “king of everyone’s heart”.
Speaking at the all-party prayer meet, organised to pay tribute to Bharat Ratna Vajpayee, Abdullah said, “Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not the Wazire-e-Azam (head of state) now but was the king of everyone’s heart. He captured every Indians’ heart not with power but with love. I don’t think anyone had a heart as large as Atal Bihari. He never discriminated against any people on the basis of caste, ethnicity, religion or language.”
During Kargil conflict, Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and Abdullah was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Reminiscing his days with the former prime minister, Abdullah said, “During Kargil war, when he came to Kargil, he spoke to everyone while standing in the middle of an open ground despite adverse warnings of his Special Protection Group. He said that no one can bring India down. He later pointed towards the hills, and said that they will repent for their mistakes”.
Vajpayee’s intent behind Pokhran nuclear test was to demonstrate India’s strength, and not war with any country. Recalling the days, Abdullah said, “When we reached the place of nuclear test, I asked him why was it necessary to do it. He replied that we are not going to use it on anyone but we need to show everyone that we are powerful and we can fight with anyone if we need to”. Abdullah, who later became a minister in UPA II, culminated his eloquent speech by slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Hind’.
Later, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti also addressed the prayer meet and called Vajpayee a “messiah” of the people of the Valley. “Atal ji was a great man and great human being and for us, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he was no less than a messiah. He was the first leader and Prime Minister who won the trust of people of Jammu and Kashmir and listened to the citizen of the state,” she said.
Recalling a conversation between her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Vajpayee, she said, “When my father apprised him of how people of Kashmir did not believe in the election process and thought it to be rigged, Atal ji assured from Red Fort that Jammu and Kashmir will have free and fair elections. It was him who for the first time made Jammu and Kashmir people believe in the democratic process.”
Mehbooba also recalled former prime minister’s contribution in bringing peace in the Valley and said, “This was Vajpayee ji who went to Pakistan and made General (Pervez) Musharraf say that they will not use the land of Jammu and Kashmir for militancy.”
Vajpayee breathed his last on August 18 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He was cremated on August 19 at Delhi’s ‘Smriti Sthal’ with full state honours.