I was not into politics as a student, and nobody in my family was in politics either. I came into BJP in 2004 only because of Atal Behari Vajpayee. My father Dr G.C. Tripathi used to run a literary society in Lucknow called ‘Sahityiki’. Atal ji used to come there since his Jan Sangh days, not as a politician but as a poet. He used to come and mesmerize everyone with his poetry. For me, he was always a poet first, and then a politician.
Even the kind of politics he did was sheer poetry. How he dealt with his opponents and critics – with gentle humour – was akin to poetry. His artistic expressions, use of hand moments and his voice modulation even while delivering his political speeches; it was a lesson in harmony.
I still remember May 11, 2004, when I got an invite for dinner from the PMO. For me, it was a moment of great ecstasy as I sat across the prime minister on the dinner table. There was the entire Cabinet present there. I started reciting his poetry to him – poems that I knew by heart. Atal ji’s expression was like that of a happy, gleeful baby. I told him that whenever I went to campaign anywhere in the country, I would always end with the lines of my favourite Atal ji’s poem – “Haar nahin manoonga, Raar nai thanoonga, kaal ke kapaal par likhta mitaata hoon, Geet naya gaata hoon.”
Today, I tearfully bid farewell to the great statesman and poet. His poetry will live on as long as the country lives, rather as long as poetry lives in the world. My salute to him.
(Vani Tripathi is former national secretary of BJP and member of CBFC)