- Congress leader Rajiv Shukla interviewed Mr Vajpayee in 1996
- The interview was conducted before Mr Vajpayee became prime minister
- His politics was about taking everyone along, Rajiv Shukla said
A poet, a politician, a statesman and an orator. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was all this, and also had an emotional core.
Senior Congress leader and former journalist Rajiv Shukla recalls that Mr Vajpayee wept during an interview with him, on the eve of him taking oath as the prime minister, at the thought of having to stay away from the public.
"I interviewed Vajpayee in 1996 when he was going to become the prime minister. I said that Atalji you're now going to be the prime minister and from tomorrow you'll have a security cover and you will be able to meet the public from a distance. While talking about this, he began to cry," Mr Shukla said.
Expressing grief over the death of Mr Vajpayee, he said, "His politics was about taking everyone along. Although his ideology was different, but as a prime minister, he used to take everyone along. Opposition parties also felt very comfortable with him. He was not hostile towards anyone. That was the reason why everybody loved him."
Mr Vajpayee (93) died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi today following prolonged illness. He is survived by his adopted daughter Namita Kaul Bhattacharya.
"Today's leaders need to learn from him. Vajpayee adopted the quality that Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri had. He was also a good speaker," Mr Shukla said.
Mr Vajpayee's death was announced by AIIMS hospital, where he was admitted on June 11 with a variety of ailments.