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Vajpayee - A master Orator, A Master Teacher

Very early in life, Vajpayee knew that in order to be a good communicator one has to be a good listener first. The former prime minister had mastered the art of listening to all viewpoint

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Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away in New Delhi on Thursday, was a statesman who will be remembered, among the many things, for his skill as an orator - an orator with a poem in his heart and a joke on his lips.

In his biography titled "Give the Name" written by Kingshuk Nag, there's an interesting anecdote that the author shares. Way back in 1944, a 20-year-old Vajpayee had gone to Allahabad to participate in a debating competition. By the time he reached the venue, the judges were in the process of declaring the results. After much convincing, the judges allowed him to speak and “Within minutes, the tables were turned and the audience was enthralled and Vajpayee was unanimously declared the winner of the competition," writes Nag.

Very early in life, Vajpayee knew that in order to be a good communicator one has to be a good listener first. The former prime minister had mastered the art of listening to all viewpoints. He showed immense creativity by playing with words as would a writer or a poet (he was one joining politics). He poured music into the ears of a listener, such was his skill with the audience.

In an interview with Tavleen Singh, Vajpayee had disclosed that the secret of his impressive oratory skill was neither from practising before the mirror nor by getting the verbatim polished by an expert. Instead, it lay in his genes which he got from his father (a school teacher) and his grandfather.

Though fluent in English, Vajpayee‘s articulation was at its best when he spoke in Hindi. Such was his command on the content that, going against the tide, he was the first leader to address the UN General Assembly in Hindi. All the previous leaders had chosen Queens language to enthrall the audience. 

Vajpayee, a master wordsmith he tackled questions on a tricky issue using humour, satire, and facts drawn from his memory to drive home his point. 

"Greatness comes out of showing respect to others and being sensitive to their needs,” is what Vajpayee always said and practised as a human being. Always open to ideas he believed in the politics of consensus and not confrontation and this reflected in all his speeches at every forum.

A leader with infinite patience, talking in an equally unhurried pace, Vajpayee was known to choose words carefully which were delivered with trademark long pauses. 

Some of his most well-known speeches were the ones he delivered in the most passionate and unconventional style on the floor of the Parliament during his years as the prime minister. 

A master in extempore speech, some of his best speeches came off the cuff. He loved the big stage and was known for weaving in elements on the spot and using his gift of gab to manoeuver through the hearts of the masses connecting with all.

Known for creating magic with words, sharing some of the inspirational quotes by Vajpayee: 

Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity.

Mere Prabhu! Mujhe itani unchaai kabhi mat dena, Gairon ko gale na lagaa sakoon, Itani rukhaai kabhi mat dena

जो कल थे, वे आज नहीं हैं।

जो आज हैं, वे कल नहीं होंगे।

होने, न होने का क्रम, इसी तरह चलता रहेगा,

हम हैं, हम रहेंगे, यह भ्रम भी सदा पलता रहेगा।

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Anup Sharma

Anup Sharma (@TweetsAnup) is a communication consultant with more than two decades of experience in political campaign management, corporate communication and social media engagement

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