A night before he was to deliver a formal address, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would give final touches to his speech, adding or deleting words. The BJP veteran, known for his oratory, insisted on written speeches in structured meetings when his government was in power.
His successor as prime minister in a BJP-led NDA regime, Narendra Modi, who is also applauded for his oratorical skills, has made every speech extempore ever since he moved to 7, RCR, three weeks ago.
Modi's speeches in Central Hall addressing BJP's parliamentary party and later in both Houses of Parliament were more in line with the issues he raised during the extensive campaign in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election. It came easily to him to address members of Parliament without any piece of paper before him.
What came as a surprise was that the trend of speaking extempore continued during his first state visit. In Bhutan, he made two speeches -- one at the banquet hosted by his counterpart there Tshering Tobgay and the other to a joint session of parliament – both without any notes.
Modi, known to have a flair for detail, does get the ground work done before making any speech, whether it was an election rally in a village or a formal address abroad, sources said. Ahead of his Bhutan visit, the Prime Minister's Office had sought inputs from the ministries of external affairs and power besides the Planning Commission on relations between the two countries and power projects in the neighbouring country, An official in the prime minister's team, Jagdish Thakkar, prepared a text based on the inputs which Modi referred to before making his speech.
Impressed with his extempore speech, made in Hindi and translated into Bhutanese for his audience, the Bhutanese broke the tradition of not clapping in the parliament.
Vajpayee too was meticulous about details, for which think tanks would do the backroom work. One of his former aides said that he was often told that people would like to hear his oratory on Independence Day.
But all through the six years he was prime minister, he read out from a text saying it was different being in government and speaking as an opposition leader.
But, the former prime minister was particular about his speeches which he would get delivered to him a night before he was to make it and at times make last-minute changes. In bureaucracy, the original draft of speeches was always in English and this would be translated into Hindi. Sometimes, in literal translation the spirit of the speech would be lost and this would rile Vajpayee, the aide said. But, he
relied heavily on the text on occasions.