New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: December 25 marks the birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee -- an Indian politician and poet who served as the the Prime Minister of India three times. Born in 1924, Vajpayee was among the founding members of Indian Jan Sangh and was one of the leaders jailed during the Emergency. On the occasion of his 96th Birth Anniversary, let's look at his political journey. 

Vajpayee's political journey began when he was seconded by the RSS to form Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951. Six years later in the 1957 general elections, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Balrampur constituency. Vajpayee served as the president of the Jana Sangh from 1968 to 1973 and ran the party with LK Advani, Nanaji Deshmukh, and Balraj Madhok. He was among the several opposition leaders arrested during the Emergency imposed by the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. Two years later when Janata Party came to power, Vajpayee served as the first non-Congress External Affairs Minister of the country.

After Janata Party's collapse in 1979, he and other members of the Jana Sangh came together to form Bharatiya Janata Party. Under his six years of presidency beginning in 1980, the BJP did not perform well, both in the assembly and general elections. The party came to power 16 years after its formation and Vajpayee was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of India. BJP, however, failed to muster majority and the government lasted only 13 days. 

Vajpayee was sworn in as the PM for the second term in 1988. It was under his leadership when India decided to conduct nuclear tests in Pokhran. Despite being under the watch list of the US, India conducted five nuclear tests in Pokhran in May 1998. The tests were heavily criticised by the US, UK and Canada and heavy sanctions were imposed on India. However, most of these sanctions were lifted by 2001. 

On April 13, 1999, the government lost the parliamentary vote and Vajpayee resigned. BJP and its allies regained control in 1999 general elections and Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister for the third time. BJP lost the 2004 elections and a year later, Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics. 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja