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Vajpayee's parting shot: Read my lips
Sheela Bhatt in Mumbai | December 30, 2005 02:21 IST
When former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics on Thursday night it should have evoked nostalgia. But instead there was utter confusion and anger among sections of the party.
He made the announcement to take sanyas at a Bharatiya Janata Party rally at Mumbai's historic Shivaji Park during the party's silver jubilee celebrations.
But his retirement was just a half story.
In a short but dramatic speech, Vajpayee 'promoted' Pramod Mahajan and put him alongside L K Advani to everyone's surprise.
Vajpayee said Advani and Pramod Mahajan would be the next pair who will replace Advani and himself. Instead of naming incumbent president Rajnath Singh he specifically named Mahajan.
While narrating a story from the Ramayana, he said his role has now become like that of Parshuram, who was angry over the breaking of Shiv Dhanush and wanted to take revenge. But when Parshuram came to know that Lord Ram has done it he participated in Ram's coronation ceremony after his return to Ayodhya with Lakshman from his 14-year exile.
That he spoke about Advani's coronation just days before Advani's resignation as party chief added to the confusion. Many feel he has made Advani's exit an embarrassment.
However, many analysts feel that this was a terse message to the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh, which has made him and Advani a target of their campaign.
Since the day RSS chief K Sudarshan publicly asked Advani and Vajpayee to quit politics all hell broke lose within the BJP. The storm created by Sudarshan's remarks reached its climax today with Vajpayee taking sanyas and giving his kursi (chair) to Mahajan and not Rajnath Singh.
Mahajan was not ready to speak on the matter but certainly he can't be unhappy. It seems he has done his homework well and won over Vajpayee's heart. It's now obvious that Mahajan is Vajpayee's choice and not Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely or Rajnath Singh.
A section of the party was angry as they feel that it was unbecoming of such a senior leader to add more confusion to an already devastated and disintegrating party.
The subtle message of Vajpayee speech seems to be that let Rajnath be president and run the show but Advani will remain the power-centre and the Advani-Mahajan duo will be the public faces of the BJP.
Mahajan could not be made party president because he did not have RSS backing. But he is highly ambitious and is aiming for the party president's post in the next round. Till that time he wants Rajnath to remain a caretaker.
Adavni is believed to be quite upset by Vajpayee's snub. Vajpayee has created many enemies for Mahajan by making him Lakshman.
According to a senior leader of BJP, who is in the anti-Mahajan camp, "Vajpayee is getting old and he has habit of snubbing people. Actually in a satirical way he merely said that let Advani-Mahajan become Ram-Lakshman. He was not promoting Mahajan but he was snubbing both in his own style. He was bored of hearing that he and Advani are Ram and Lakshman. So, may be out of boredom, Vajpayee gave it back to both."