Saturday, Jun 07, 2003
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By Harish Khare
Mr. Naidu started a first-rate political turmoil by suggesting early this week that both Mr. Vajpayee and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, would be projected as the party's mascots. This provoked an annoyed Mr. Vajpayee to declare that Mr. Advani would lead the party's electoral battles.
The crisis was presumed to have been capped on Thursday with Mr. Naidu retracting his "two mascots" formula and reiterating the "Vajpayee-is-the-sole-leader" formulation. The judgment all round was that Mr. Naidu was the sole culprit and had totally misread the Prime Minister's "retirement" remarks.
Though Mr. Vajpayee is believed to have conveyed to Mr. Naidu that as far as he (Mr. Vajpayee) was concerned the leadership controversy was over, Mr. Naidu's embarrassment continues. The Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray, rubbed it in, at a press conference in Mumbai today: "The Prime Minister really played a nice move. Call it a googly or anything, he has played his cards well."
It appears that some sections in and out of the BJP are not prepared to believe that Mr. Naidu was simply carried away by his own ebullience. Dr. Joshi, who has never fancied himself as an Advani camp follower, has stoked the leadership controversy by going public with what he and others have been arguing in private.
The Human Resource Development Minister has taken a technical stand. He said that Mr. Naidu never had the party's endorsement when the BJP president came up with his ``vikas purush/loh purush'' formulation. He noted that only the party's parliamentary board or the national executive could take such a decision.
What has jarred even Mr. Advani's admirers is that at no time had the Deputy Prime Minister tried to contradict Mr. Naidu's two mascots trial balloon. This reticence, from a man who is no stranger to nuances of silence, has been noticed.
A senior Cabinet Minister said "Mr. Naidu is the obvious loser, but the bigger loser is Mr. Advani who till this day has not been heard from.
``The unkind part of the leadership hullabaloo is that Mr. Naidu raked up a controversy at a time when the Prime Minister was out of the country. Now the same controversy refuses to go away when the Deputy Prime Minister leaves on a longish foreign trip.
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