Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then prime minister and BJP stalwart asked Rajya Sabha MP from Congress Vijay Darda after winning Rajya Sabha elections as an independent candidate in 1998 to join Congress over the BJP.
Darda, Chairman of Lokmat group, told Nation Next, “After I won Rajya Sabha elections as an independent candidate, (after defeating the Congress nominee Ram Pradhan, a Sonia Gandhi’s hand-picked candidate), I headed to Vajpayeeji’s house in New Delhi with BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. He advised me that many people from the BJP would offer me to join their party. But, I shouldn’t join it because he said that I was a die-hard Congress statesman.”
Vajpayee told Darda that because the latter was in anger, he shouldn’t take any action. Darda said, “Atalji said that the cultures of BJP and Congress both were different. He advised me to patch up with my concerned leader at the right time.”
Darda, condoling the veteran leader’s death, said, “I’d met Atalji for the first time while I was in school. He’d come over at my house to meet my father late Shri Jawaharlal Dardaji. He was an extremely sensitive person. He would always ask me in Marathi, “Kay, kasa kay? Majet na? (Hi, how are you? Hope you’re doing well). How’s your newspaper Lokmat doing? The country has lost a great visionary, a true leader. He would read people’s minds.”