The prime minister of India since 19 March 1998, until May 2004. His Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP is the leading member of an alliance holding 304 of the 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house), having gained a popular vote of 40.8%. He is regarded as a moderate in the Hindu extremist BJP.

He was born into the Brahmin caste on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior, now in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He was briefly imprisoned under British rule in 1942, and after a flirtation with communism began to support right-wing Hindu organizations.

A skilled orator, he led the BJP to victory in the 1996 elections, and was named prime minister, though only held office for the latter two weeks of May. After two short-lived governments fell, he returned to office in 1998, and in 1999 was confirmed as head of a new coalition called the National Democratic Alliance.

In national elections in May 2004 the BJP was comprehensively defeated by the Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi, and Vajpayee resigned as Prime Minister.

< Inder Kumar Gujral - Prime Ministers of India - Manmohan Singh >

Official website of the prime minister's office is http://www.pmindia.nic.in/home.htm

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