Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a soft corner for me says former CM S.M. Krishna’s

Bengaluru: An inexplicable soft corner for him, as though he was a member of late PM A.B. Vajpayee’s family, remains at the top of former CM S.M. Krishna’s mind as he reminisces about the leader who passed away on Thursday.

Recalling how 1999 was a milestone for both Mr Vajpayee and himself, Mr Krishna narrated an episode in Rashtrapathi Bhavan during the swearing in ceremony of the leader. 

“I was perhaps a day old as chief minister and rushed to attend the oath taking ceremony, but when I reached the venue a trifle late, I could not find a chair. His foster son-in-law rushed to my rescue and escorted me to an enclosure for the family. Next morning, Mr Vajpayee jocularly enquired about my plight of not finding a seat at the venue. Over the next five years, we had excellent rapport, and met often to discuss issues, including the abduction of Dr Rajkumar by forest brigand Veerappan, and the dispute over sharing water of Cauvery with Tamil Nadu.  He was an ideal example as to how a Prime Minister should conduct himself in a Federal system.  Whenever I met him, the personal touch was so unique that I felt privileged that he had a soft corner for me,” he added.

Mr Krishna recalled how Mr Vajpayee, obviously misled by his party colleagues in Bengaluru that the credit would go to the Congress government in Karnataka, was reluctant to unveil the foundation stone for the international airport but ultimately did the honours.

“I met him in Delhi and explained that Bengaluru should not be viewed merely as the capital of Karnataka, but the silicon hub of the country, and how it has boosted the image of our nation. He then agreed to come for the event, but the SPG said it would be difficult as the venue was outside the city. I met him a second time and convinced him that he could press the button at a function in Vidhana Soudha to unveil the foundation stone remotely at the site of the new airport (near Devanahalli). It was a matter of personal prestige for me to ensure that the Prime Minister unveiled the foundation stone for the new airport, and I was thrilled when he came to Bengaluru, and completed the formalities,” he added. 

The former CM also recounted times when he would have everyone in splits with his sense of humour and expected them to keep him company at the dining table as he was a connoisseur of delicacies. 

“He didn’t mind people cracking jokes at his expense,” he added.

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