Published on : Friday, August 13, 2021
At the onset of this millennium, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Indian prime minister had shortlisted Kumarakom village in Kerala, a beautiful rural community on Vembanad Lake to welcome the New Year. On the banks of the tranquil lake, he had spent five days, keeping mostly to himself, thinking about India’s past, present and future.
The famous Kumarakom Musings was the result of his serene stay, two essays where he touched upon the two “legacy problems” of India—the Ayodhya dispute and the dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir. Both were extremely controversial problems that his predecessors were fighting for long. Through Kumarakom Musings, Vajpayee tried to rise above the mass and become a statesman.
“Each new generation… has to give a worthy account of itself in its own lifetime, aware that its contribution to India’s progress will be judged essentially on two counts: One, how many ‘legacy problems’ inherited from the past has it resolved? Two, how strong a foundation has it laid for the future development of the nation?” Vajpayee wrote in his essay.
“My mind probes these questions as my eyes feast on the verdant environs of Kumarakom resort on the banks of the sea-sized Vembanad Lake in Kerala.”
On December 26, 2000, the prime minister had reached Kumarakom, a day after his 77th birthday. He was badly in need of a vacation of that sort as he was being attacked from all sides—his opponents in politics called him a “counterfeit moderate”, the hardliners in his party considered him a “closet Nehruvian”.
“Vajpayee ji’s Kumarakom trip turned out to be much more than a mere vacation. He used the trip to give a credible and inspiring message for the people of our country,” said Sudheendra Kulkarni, a close aide of Vajpayee who had accompanied him on his trip. “He was a man of dialogue and tried to think out of the box to find solutions to two long-pending issues that our country was facing then.”
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