Sikkim’s fondness for Vajpayee manifests in Shradhanjalis across State

Gangtok, 17 Aug:

Former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was more than just a Prime Minister, he was a tall statesman who is remembered for his soft eloquence and steely grit in handling matters of the nation and its states. Many Sikkimese remember him fondly for his sensitive approach towards issues of Sikkim. Inclusion of Limboo and Tamang communities in the Scheduled Tribes list happened during his term as PM, as did the historic agreement with China which led to resumption of border trade through Nathula.

Sikkimese today not just closed down shops and businesses in tribute to the former Prime Minister, but also organised "Shradhanjali" programs at towns across the State by lighting candles and paying floral tributes to the departed soul.

The former PM was also magnanimous in giving Sikkim the development packages which the state required.

With friends across parties and an ardent devotee of parliamentary form of government, a quality even those is opposition respected, was his constant encouragement for debates and discussions in both Houses of Parliament.

"We wish to have more leaders like him at the top so that no one upstages the virtues of democracy through violence or intimidation," said one of the locals who had arrived at the Shradhanjali programme organised at MG Marg here this evening.

For many in Sikkim, he was also one of the first Members of Parliament they ever saw.

An employee of an MNC and resident of Gangtok, Tenzing Norgay, remembers being taken from school to the national highway to wave at him.

A Sikkim University student, Parijaat Sharma, remembers being told by her father that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the best leader India ever saw after Pandit Nehru.

A squeaky clean image, majestic Hindi speaking skills coupled with secular credentials in spite of belonging to a party on the right, and a true democrat at heart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s presence will be missed not just by those who voted for his party but by all Indians.