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|October 8, 2002|
The Bharatiya Janata Party, as we all know, is a divided house.
At the top, you have two very distinct camps. One small, the other big.
The smaller one owes allegiance to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, while the other is fiercely loyal to Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.
Then there is a third, with Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi at the helm of affairs, though his followers are a negligible lot.
While members of each camp are loyal to their leader, individually they pull one another down. For instance, Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj will not take it lying down if anyone else gets into Advani's good books --- and god help him if it is party spokesman Arun Jaitley whom she, ah, adores.
Ditto the Vajpayee camp, where Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan and Petroleum Minister Ram Naik constantly bare their teeth at each other.
The upshot of it all is the recent scurrilous reports against senior BJP leaders. A weekly news magazine reported how the prime minister was angry with a BJP official for putting the Gujarat communal carnage on page one every time it looked like receding into the background.
A person claiming to be Vajpayee's well-wisher was clearly behind this 'plant'. The same gentleman, we learn, was also responsible for the report in a section of the media that Vajpayee was unhappy with BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu.
Some time ago, a member of the BJP's cultural cell sought donations from Delhi businessmen for a pictorial brochure on the life and times of Prime Minister Vajpayee.
His efforts yielded Rs 500,000. Which money he decided not to deposit in the culture cell's bank account.
When his culture colleagues found out, they wanted the cash. He asked them, rather impolitely, to get lost.
Next sunrise, his colleagues raided the member's house. But they didn't get the bundle.
Subsequently, a prime ministerial aide was called in to resolve the dispute.
Finally, the member agreed to return the money --- not to the cell, mind you, but to the donors!
The member in question has since been declared persona non grata and his entry to the party office at Ashoka Road has been barred.
Her imperious highness
Congressmen, it seems, find it easier to meet the prime minister than their party boss, Sonia Gandhi.
Bhuvanesh Chaturvedi, senior leader from Rajasthan, was heard complaining the other day that he has been trying to meet Sonia for the last two years.
His request, according to him, is still 'pending'.
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