As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Droupadi Murmu, and NDA leaders paid floral tributes to the former prime minister and Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 5th death anniversary at Sadaiv Atal' memorial, I hoped there were others from the opposition also who would have done the same, because he was a true leader!

I remember there was shock and disbelief that day, when with a failed advertising campaign that portrayed India Shining, the last shining star in the Indian horizon was swept away in an election and the Indian electorate harshly moved him out of Race Course Road, and sent him on the road to oblivion.

And yet it is not into oblivion that he went, though, from that day of leaving his Prime Minister’s abode, and though he kept a dignified silence, it is not into nothingness that Atal Bihari Vajpayee went, he goes into the immortal hall of fame.

Vajpayee will live on and will join the ranks of India’s greats; of Nehru and Gandhiji. He will always be remembered for his love for peace: Even though victorious in the Kargil war, he still rode triumphantly into Lahore in a bus from India and tried again and again to offer a hand of peace to his counterpart Musharraf then using the gun and the sword.

Not just peace outside the country, but within.

India was shining, and yet it was another kind of shining than what the advertising men thought of: A shine of togetherness, of fellowship, of people with beard, tilak, cross or turban feeling safe and secure with each other. It was a time when the country, though ruled by a saffron party, still felt their own colours remain intact.

There was shock and disbelief that day five years ago as the nation saw his body being taken to Vijay Ghat, but I felt as the flames rose high, a figure with a loin cloth took him by the hand saying, “Come with me Atal, you continued doing for India, what I began!”

And together, one from Vijay Ghat and the other leading him from Rajghat they walked hand in hand into the hall of fame where he forever will be India’s Shining Hero!

These are the men our leaders of today need to fashion their lives around; men who will be remembered much after the flames have died, men who take the long, arduous road of peace instead of the easy short cut of violence, through arms or rhetoric!

Long live the memory of a man who kept India Shining..!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.