Vajpayee, the reluctant politician who took to poetry to vent his angst

  • He asked Modi to follow 'Raj Dharma' after the Gujarat riots
  • He was sceptical of the destructive power of nuclear energy
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Vajpayee, the poet, sang a different tune from the prime minister Vajpayee: Photo | Manorama

Days into his third stint as prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee jotted down a couplet that throws light into the mind of a reluctant politician.

"Don't lift me to this loft

For I can’t embrace it."

He famously chided the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the Gujarat carnage of 2002 by exhorting him to follow "raj dharma."

Vajpayee the poet was even more harsh. He wrote that the throne smeared with the blood of the innocent was more disgusting than the sands of a crematorium.

The raging poet said burnt children, raped women and razed houses were not testimony to culture or signs of patriotism.

Vajpayee, who steered India’s second nuclear test at Pokhran as prime minister and defended it in every fora, sang a different tune as a poet.

He wonders how the nuclear scientists could sleep peacefully after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In another poem, he apologises to Mahatma Gandhi for breaking all promises and polluting his resting place.

Even as the BJP and its allies unleashed an ad blitzkrieg branded “India Shining” ahead of a crucial election, he wrote about political apathy and evading social justice.

"Regimes have changed

Crowns have changed

Has justice been served?"