Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday that though former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a lot of initiatives to have a “proper friendship” with Pakistan, the latter has continued with its “old disease” of funding terror.
While addressing an event to commemorate the 94th birth anniversary of Vajpayee, Mr Naidu said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited leaders of all SAARC countries for his swearing-in ceremony.
He recalled Vajpayee’s statement that ‘You can change your friends but you cannot change your neighbours. India wants to be friendly with all countries’.
“That is why Narendra Modi invited all SAARC countries for his swearing in and all came. We want to have a friendship with all, including Pakistan. We can work together. We want to live together happily. We want to progress together but unfortunately they are continuing with their old disease of aiding, inhabiting and funding terror. They must give it up,” he said.
Lahore bus yatra, Agra Talk, even earlier Samjhauta Express – all the initiatives were taken by Vajpayee to have a proper friendship with Pakistan, he said.
Mr Naidu said Vajpayee led the country ably through difficult times. He said despite the world imposing restrictions on India, he successfully conducted nuclear tests in Pokhran in 1998, which was also depicted on the celluloid.
“It was the time when the country gave a fitting reply in the Kargil war and also overcame devastation caused during the Gujarat earthquake in 2001. The attack on Parliament was a testimony to how dangerous cross border terrorism could be,” he said.
The vice-president said the coming generations will remember Vajpayee for bringing connectivity revolution and paving the way for development and growth.
“He will be remembered after Sher Shah Suri for connectivity – air connectivity, rail connectivity, rural connectivity, port connectivity… He brought such a political connectivity in the country and brought 23 political parties of the country together,” Mr Naidu added.
On the importance of Good Governance Day that is being observed on the birth anniversary of Vajpayee, Mr Naidu said taking care of the needs of the poor and down trodden and keeping people at the centre of public administration was the key element of governance.
A ‘bhajan sandhya’ was organised on the occasion of birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed way on August 16 this year. Singer Daler Mehndi rendered devotional songs on the occasion.