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Remembering Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the orator who won hearts with his speeches

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There is an interesting piece of anecdote that writer Kingshuk Nag has penned down in his biography of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 1944, a twenty-year-old Vajpayee had gone to Allahabad to take part in a debating competition. He had reached late, much after his turn to speak was over, and the judges were about to declare the results. But he requested the judges to let him speak and after much cajoling, he was allowed. “Within minutes, the tables were turned and the audience was enthralled,” writes Nag. Vajpayee was declared the winner of the competition.

In the days and years that followed, the politician and former prime minister captivated hearts of millions with the brilliance of his speech. In more than six decades that he spent in active political life, Vajpayee has been noted for being the moderating force in the BJP, for emphasising on the need for making India a nuclear-armed state, and for being a staunch believer in Gandhian socialism and secularism. Yet, if there is one aspect of Vajpayee that will always define the persona of Vajpayee then that is his awe-inspiring oratory skills.

“He was unquestionably the greatest orator that India has heard since Independence,” writes Union Minister Arun Jaitley in his article, ‘Atal ji- The gentle giant’. Jaitley added that “he could play with words, but was always measured.” A writer and a poet before joining politics, Vajpayee’s dexterity with words was what brought him into the Lok Sabha. “The then bosses of the fledgling Jana Sangh realised that Atal’s way with words and the passion that he brought to his speeches were invaluable assets.

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