When the US invaded Iraq and asked India to be a part of the coalition forces, Vajpayee had called Left leaders CPI leader A B Bardhan and CPI(M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was often described as the moderate face of the BJP, was a true believer in a multi-party democracy, Left parties said today. Left leaders, who were otherwise strong critics of the former prime minister's ideology, said Vajpayee always kept open the lines of consultation when he was in government and reached out to opposition parties before taking important decisions.
"When the US invaded Iraq and asked India to be a part of the coalition forces, Vajpayee had called Left leaders CPI leader A B Bardhan and CPI(M) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet at an all party meeting to discuss the matter.
"Left leaders had raised objection to India supporting the US. Vajpayee told the Left leaders that 'jao bahar jake jor se bolo', meaning they should raise their voice against the US on streets. Next day Parliament passed a resolution stating India will not be part of the coalition forces," CPI leader D Raja said.
CPI(M) said the very fact that such an important issue was brought to Parliament, displayed that Vajpayee valued the observations of opposition parties.
"There are other instances where he displayed character which is very different from today's government. That is - ideologically or politically there can be issues of confrontations, but when it comes to personal rapport with other leaders or parties there was difference that we don't see today. That is why he was acceptable to a large section of people.
Whatever face he had he had good relations with all parties," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said. Though the Left parties used to call Vajpayee a "mask" of the RSS, hiding his party's links with Hindu groups, they, however, agreed that he openly disagreed with his party's line on several issues.
"Vajpayee's trusted lieutenant L K Advani and most BJP politicians supported the demolition of Babri Masjid but Vajpayee condemned the attack unequivocally," Raja said.Noting that the former prime minister had taken political positions according to the BJP-RSS agenda, the two Left leaders said he never showed the aggressive politics of the BJP present today.