“Main ‘Atal’ bhi hoon aur ‘Bihari’ bhi hoon”.
This one liner from Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a poll rally in Bihar in 2004 to woo voters was one such example of the former prime minister’s penchant for subtle humour and spontaneity which he displayed with ease on several occasions.
A master orator, Vajpayee used the witty remarks with aplomb for political satire on his opponents that often won him accolades and hearts of many.
With his one-liners, he often trumped the questioner that helped tide over tough questions posed to him and defuse the situation.
When Congress chief Sonia Gandhi termed his government as corrupt, incompetent and incapable, he hit back saying it seems the words have been specially found from the dictionary.
He told her in Parliament that while they were working with her shoulder to shoulder, despite differing thoughts, is this the way to express your differences.
“It looks like the words have been specially found by opening a dictionary in front,” he said, amid laughter in the entire Lok Sabha.
On another occasion, he said, “Vajpayee to achha hai, par party theek nahi hai. Toh achche Vajpayee ka kya karne ka iraada rakhte hain. (You say that Vajpayee is good, but his party is not…Then what do you intend doing with the good Vajpayee.)
Once when LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who was with the Congress, attacked the BJP over the Ram temple issue saying BJP talks about Ram, but does not have Ram in it while he has in his name.
Vajpayee’s response–“Paswan ji, Haram mein bhi Ram hota hai (Ram is even there in the word ‘Haram’ (forbidden in Arabic). Paswan is now a BJP ally.
In 2003, Vajpayee told Parliament, “You can change a friend, but not a neighbour” while suggesting that friendship with Pakistan should be maintained to the extent possible. Responding to the remark by a Pakistani foreign minister that Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir, Vajpayee said “without Pakistan, India is incomplete”.
One of his other famous one liners was “democracy is such where two foolish people defeat a strong man”.
About himself, he once said “I neither have the wealth of my grandfather or my father, but have the blessings of my mother”.
Elsewhere, he was once asked “Padosi kehte hai ki ek haath se taali nahi bajti” (you cannot cal with one hand), he came with his quick reply saying, “Humne kaha ki chutki toh baj sakti hai” (but one can click our finger).
On yet another occasion, when asked about the existence of two ‘dal’ (factions) – that of Vajpayee and Advani, within the BJP, he said “Main kisi dal-dal mein nahi hoon. Main auron ke dal-dal mein apna kamal khilaata hoon”.