Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had an intuitive understanding that the post Cold-war world required India to drastically rework its relationships and this vision led to a new beginning in ties with the United States, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday.
Paying rich tribute to Mr Vajpayee on his 96th birth anniversary, Mr Jaishankar said the eminent leader warmly reached out to various regions and continents that laid ground for expansion of India’s overall external engagements, particularly with Europe, Africa, Latin America and countries in the ASEAN region.
He said India’s principled approach of engaging China on the basis of mutual respect and mutual sensitivity also reflects Mr Vajpayee’s thinking.
In the neighbourhood, Mr Jaishankar said, Mr Vajpayee “radiated goodwill and friendship” while being clear that terrorism and trust would not co-exist.
The external affairs minister described Mr Vajpayee’s decision to carry out the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 as his “most enduring” contribution.
Born on December 25, 1924, in the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior, Mr Vajpayee was the first leader from the BJP to become prime minister. He served as prime minister thrice — first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999 and then for a full term between 1999 and 2004.
“Looking back at Atalji‘s life and legacy, there is no question that he was the transformational leader when it came to Indian foreign policy. He had an intuitive understanding that the post Cold-war world required India to drastically rework its relationships and interests,” Mr Jaishankar said.