Ex-Odisha Governor MM Rajendran pays tribute to AB Vajpayee
Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent
His passing away is indeed an irreparable loss to the nation, Ex-Odisha Governor said.
Late Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee
Chennai: Former Odisha Governor and Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu M M Rajendran recalls his association with the late Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in this tribute he penned for DC:
It was the year 1977 when he was Minister of External Affairs in Morarji’s Government and I was Joint Secretary in Government of India looking, after among others, foreign voluntary organizations, that we sought his help to sort out some issues relating to American NGOs functioning in India. He patiently listened to me and my Secretary and then came up with a solution to the problem. I was struck by his quick understanding and innovative approach to solving problems.
Many years later, after my retirement from Government of India, Vajpayeeji became Prime Minister again in 1998 when some senior politicians from North with whom I had worked and who were aware of the injustice done to me in denying the position of the Cabinet Secretary in 1992, took it to his notice. He got the points verified by his senior officials and once convinced that a wrong had been done, was determined to undo it by making me a Governor. The opportunity came in November 1999 when Orissa was reeling under the impact of a devastating super cyclone, with an inept State Government not being able to rise to the occasion that Vajpayeeji decided to send me to Odisha as Governor and also advised the then CM to take the advice of the new Governor with extensive administrative experience.
My appointment came a few months after an Australian Missionary Staines and his two sons were murdered by some fundamentalists making it clear to the people of Odisha that he had no reservations at all in appointing a Christian as Governor of the State in which such an incident happened. His secular credentials were impeccable.
Moved by the devastation and loss of lives suffered by the people, he was personally monitoring the relief and rehabilitation work first with the help of a Cabinet Committee and later dealing with me directly and through his Principal Secretary. He had given instructions to all the Cabinet members that whatever help I requested should be extended.
In the five years I worked as Governor, I had the pleasant experience of being treated with extreme courtesy, meeting me whenever I sought an appointment, taking interest in the affairs of the State.
Even after the change of the State Government with a CM who was a coalition partner with him, he continued to give great weightage to the opinion expressed by me sometimes even asking the CM when he went with any proposal, whether he had discussed the matter with me and I was supportive of it.
My monthly confidential letters to him received his personal attention followed by action by different Ministries on suggestions made by me. He never interfered with my functioning as Governor in my constitutional responsibilities.
Whenever he visited Orissa and stayed in the Raj Bhavan, I had always made it a point to give a banquet in his honour and inviting people from different cross sections of society to enable him to meet them and hear their views on issues of importance. In the last visit he made to Odisha in 2004, just before the elections, he preferred to have a private dinner with us rather than a banquet in view of the visit being a political one—a stickler for propriety in public life.
Shri Vajpayeeji was a colossus who strode the political field of India for several decades earning the admiration and love of the leaders and people cutting across party lines. In the true sense of the term he was a National Leader with an international stature, respected and loved by everyone who came into contact with him.
His passing away is indeed an irreparable loss to the nation.