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1942-2005: A timeline of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's political career

As a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was already politically active by the age of 16. He participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was arrested with his brother for 23 days.

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

A prime minister for three times, a member of parliament for over four decades and a Bharat Ratna awardee, the poet-politician Atal Bihari Vajpayee's life and political career was strewn with achievements and important events, which have helped shaped the country's future today. Here is a timeline of the politician's career:

1942-1951: As a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was already politically active by the age of 16. He participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was arrested with his brother for 23 days.

In 1951, he started working for Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a political wing of RSS.

1957: The year was a landmark in Vajpayee's career, as it marked his entry into the mainstream politics. In the Lok Sabha Elections that year, he contested from three seats --Lucknow, Mathura and Balrampur. While he lost in Mathura and Lucknow, he won in Balrampur and became a member of parliament.

1968: After the death of Jana Sangh co-founder Deendayal Upadhyaya in a train accident, Vajpayee took over the reins of the party and became the National President of the party.

1977: In 1975, Vajpayee was arrested along with other opposition leaders during the Emergency period imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Later, in 1977 after the emergency was withdrawn, Jan Sangh merged with other opposition parties to form Janata Party, solely to oppose the rule of Indian National Congress. In the general elections that year, Janata Party emerged as the victor and formed a government led by Morarji Desai, India's first non-Congress prime minister. Vajpayee became the Minister of External Affairs on his cabinet.

1980: In 1977, Janata Party was dissolved after Morarji Desai resigned as prime minister. In 1980, Vajpayee joined L.K. Advani, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and his other RSS, Jan Sangh colleagues to form Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and became the party's first president.

1984: In the coming years, the party struggled and in fact in 1984 elections, BJP was left with only two seats in the Parliament. Vajpayee led the party during these years and supported the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement by RSS and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

1994: BJP came into prominence again after a good performance in Karnataka Assembly Elections in 1994. The party won 40 seats out of 224 seats in the polls. Later in 1995, in Maharashtra and Gujarat assembly elections, the party again showed a good performance and won 65 seats and 121 seats in the states. This brought back Vajpayee and BJP into political centre stage in the country.

1996: In the general elections this year, BJP had the majority 161 seats and Vajpayee became the prime minister of India. However, the party was unable to get support from other parties to get more than 200 seats to form the government and therefore resigned after 13 days.

1998: BJP came back into power in 1998. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was formed and Vajpayee became the prime minister again. This government was dissolved after Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK withdrew its support after 13 months and the government came down. Vajpayee's some of the most notable achievements, nuclear tests in Pokhran were conducted in this term; and Lahore summit, too, took place during this period.

1999: In his third and final term as the prime minister, Vajpayee served for the full five years. While his term took off again with another crisis -- the Kandahar Hijack in December 1999 -- going ahead he brought some reforms which would pave the way for country's growth. The attack on Parliament in 2001 was another crisis Vajpayee had to battle during this term but his reformatory projects such as -- National highway project, encouraging private sector and foreign investments, reducing the minimum government holding in PSBs, introduction of Asset Reconstruction Companies -- were applauded.

2004: Against the general consensus, BJP lost 2004 General Elections to Congress-led UPA. In fact, the 13th Lok Sabha had been dissolved before the full-term as the BJP was confident it would come back to power again. However, the party witnessed a crushing defeat and Vajpayee refused to be the leader of opposition taking the responsibility of the defeat. In 2005, he declared his retirement from politics.

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