Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at 93 on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at AIIMS in New Delhi. Simple, respectful, friendly and always smiling, an iconic and charismatic figure who was loved by all was an honest statesman who often rose above political differences for the cause of humanity, justice and peace. He was a patriot, a visionary besides being a brilliant orator, debater and poet. He represented the best of India. Even his political rivals would admit he won their hearts.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was perhaps the first Prime Minister who realised the significance of the northeastern region and took several initiatives for the progress of the region. It was under his leadership, the Central government created a separate department of Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER) to ensure all round development in the region, the East-West corridor connecting Assam’s Silchar with Gujarat’s Porbandar and many more. Under the Prime Ministership of Vajpayee, a non-lapsable pool of funds was set up, a pool, meant for funding development projects in the northeast States, which will fill the resource gap in creation of new infrastructure which was a top priority concern of the Union Government. “Sikkim included as a member of North Eastern Council, mobile phone connectivity launched in the region and also Prime Minister’s Gram Sarak Yojna expanded to benefit the NER. He had emphasized that there will never be any dearth of funds for taking the NE region forward.
He had a close relationship with the Northeast. Vajpayee will be remembered by the people of Meghalaya in particular and northeastern states as a whole for his keen interest to develop the North Eastern states was very clear when he day long brainstorming on socio- economic development of the northeastern states with his key ministers then L.K. Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission K.C. Pant and Governors and Chief Ministers of the northeastern states to Shillong on January 21, 2000.The People of Nagaland have a special place for him in their hearts. He was the first Prime Minister who not only recognised the “unique history of the Nagas”, but also admitted that mistakes had been committed, and lamented the unnecessary spilling of blood in the state. It was during his leadership the unique history and situation of the Nagas was officially recognized by the Government of India on July 11, 2002. He passed instructions for the road to be converted to four-lane of which the construction work is going on now. Mizoram becomes the third power-surplus State in the North-East, after Sikkim and Tripura. The project was first declared and cleared by the Union Government during the Prime Ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, way back in 1998. Vajpayee’s ‘dream’ to build India’s longest Bhupen Hazarika Bridge, the 9.15-km-long bridge on river Lohit, a tributary of river Brahmaputra between Dhola, Sadiya in Assam was inaugurated in May 2017 that got cleared the feasibility study of the project in August 2003.
He had familiarized himself fully with the foreign nationals problem of Assam and strongly supported the Assam Movement. In 1981, he had written the book Assam Problem: Repression No Solution. During the six years of the Assam Movement, he had visited Assam several times. In July 1999, he also dedicated to the nation the Numaligarh Refinery that had come up as a consequence of the Assam Accord. The people will remember him for his genuine concern for the Northeast States of the country for which there has been very little concern.