Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 96th birth anniversary: Iconic poems penned by late former prime minister

December 25 marks the birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart, who passed away in August 2018, besides being the country’s first BJP prime minister, was also known for his remarkable oratory and poetry skills. Born in Gwalior on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee had immense affection for his native language, Hindi, and became the first person to deliver a speech in the language at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in 1977, as India’s external affairs minister.

It is, therefore, hardly a matter of surprise that despite passing away more than two years ago, Vajpayee’s poems remain as popular as ever. Some of these have, in fact, achieved an iconic status. Here are some of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s most famous poems:

1. ‘Geet naya gata hun’: The poem is the second of Vajpayee’s ‘Do Anubhutiyan.’ It contains two four-line stanzas and two couplets, in which a couplet follows a stanza. It is the last two lines of the second stanza, which have arguably become Vajpayee’s most iconic lines and also synonymous with him. ‘Haar nahi manunga, rar nahi thanunga’ (rough translation: I will not give up) have become almost as famous as Vajpayee himself.

2. ‘Dudh main darar’: Thepoem, whose title literally translates to a ‘crack in the milk,’ was penned by Vajpayee during the raging Khalistan insurgency in Punjab. Alternatively, it is also known by its opening line of ‘khoon kyon safed ho gaya? (how did the blood turn white?)’.

3. ‘Kadam milakar chalna hoga’: There are numerous obstacles in life, but these can be crossed if all of us come together – this is the central theme of this poem, whose title literally translates to ‘we will have to walk together.’

Some other famous poems penned by Vajpayee, the country’s three-term prime minister and the first non-Congress prime minister to complete a full five-year term, include ‘Manali mat jaiyo,’ ‘Ek baras beet gaya,’ ‘Maut se than gayi, ’Aaj Sindhu main jwar utha hai’ etc. His poems have been collated in his book ‘Meri Iqyavan Kavitayein’ (My 51 Poems).

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