On the 90th birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, here are some interesting and lesser known facts on one of India's most charismatic leader:
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Pic/AFP
1. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Krishna Devi in a middle-class Brahmin family. His birthday has been declared as Good Governance Day by the NDA government.
2. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939 and became a full-time pracharak in 1947.
3. By virtue of his oratorical and organisational skills, he became the face of the Jana Sangh. After the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the mantle of its leadership fell on his shoulders and he became its national president in 1968. Along with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and L K Advani, Vajpayee led the Jana Sangh to national prominence.
4. His first entry into parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha. He served the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, for 10 terms that began in 1957 and concluded in 2009.
5. Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999, Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other conflicts with Pakistan.
6. Vajpayee was the first head of government from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
7. Vajpayee had earned much fame as India's external affairs minister in Prime Minister Morarji Desai government during which tenure he delivered a widely acclaimed speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi.
8. He is the only politician to have won from six different Lok Sabha constituencies from four states.
9. He loves nature and one of his favourite retreats is Manali in Himachal Pradesh.
10. Government of India conferred Vajpayee with the highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on December 24, 2014.