Pune: Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shared a special connect with the city. After his demise on Thursday evening, politicians, businessmen and publishers shared anecdotes about their association with Vajpayee, who was loved by people across parties and was known from his close association with common party workers.
Former MP Pradeep Rawat, while speaking to Sakal Times, shared a few moments about his association with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He said, “Vajpayee visited Pune several times since the era of Jan Sangh.”
He added, “I can’t resist myself from sharing one incident with you. After Kargil war, when Vajpayee had come to attend Science Congress in Pune, he looked very upset when he landed in the city. Being a Member of Parliament, I decided to do something that would change his mood. I asked him if I can call Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He spontaneously asked,
“Woh aange? I assured him that I would try. I called Joshi and requested him to come. Pt. Bhimsen Joshi came at Raj Bhavan around 8 pm. He sung bhajans - devotional songs till late night. Vajpayee’s mood changed for the good. However, other leaders from the party were upset, as they were worried about the security issue but I am happy that I could manage it.”
Similarly, Haribhau Nagarkar, 89-year-old owner of Nagarkar Jewellers located at Karve Nagar Road, shared several anecdotes from his long association with Vajpayee with Sakal Times. He said, “I could spend time with Vajpayee during a three-day camp of RSS top leaders in Pune in 1963. Before that, I was closely associated with Vajpayee. I am a hard core RSS member. RSS Pune unit had given me responsibility of catering. There were 1,200 RSS leaders in the camp. On the last day of the camp, Vajpayee felicitated me. From that day, Vajpayee recognised me personally. Whenever, he visited Pune, I met him.”
Nagarkar added, “I inaugurated my jewellery shop in 1982 on Karve Road at the hands of Vajpayee. At the inaugural function, he asked me why I chose him when I knew he was not fond of any jewellery. I told him that my family members wanted to check if you will come upon being invited by me.”
Nagarkar added, “I lastly met him in Mumbai when Vajpayee went for knee surgery. I personally met him at the hospital despite tight security cover after he instructed his security personnel.”
Ravi Ghatpande, a city-based publisher of Snehal Publication, said, “He was very polite in nature and he had a strong memory. He had keen observation skills and he could recognise common party worker by name. My publication wanted to publish one book on the RSS second Sarsanghchalak Madhav Golwalkar. Writer Mrunalini Joshi wrote this book. Vajpayee gave name to the book ‘Rashtraya Swaha.’ He came for the book release function on February 1986 after he lost Gwalior Lok Sabha constituency seat. He mentioned defect in his speech in a humorous way. I met him twice after this event. Once in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) citation ceremony in 1987 and 1999 when he was Prime Minister. But, there his attitude towards common man remained unchanged.”
Atalji’s PMC connect
Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had presented a citation to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1987 at the hands of then city Mayor Ulhas Dhole. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s portrait was also inaugurated at the hands of Vajpayee. In his speech, he pointed out that there was no need to felicitate politicians. Instead authors or actors doing constructive work for the society should be felicitated.