Sunday, Jun 15, 2003
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By Neena Vyas
Mr. Naidu's statement about 10 days ago that during the polls the party would project a twin leadership Mr. Vajpayee as `vikas purush' (the development man) and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, as `loh purush' (iron man) led to an outburst by Mr. Vajpayee that the electoral battle should be led by Mr. Advani. Mr. Naidu's statement was seen as an effort to project Mr. Advani as the strong man the real power centre in the party and perhaps the man most appropriate for the prime ministerial office.
The meeting cleared the air, with Mr. Naidu reportedly telling Mr. Vajpayee that his statement had been completely misinterpreted. Sources said the Prime Minister agreed that the matter should be treated as closed. "There is no controversy, take the party forward, do not worry," he is reported to have said and also promised to "clear the wrong impression" at "an appropriate time".
The statement of the Human Resource Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, that no party forum had authorised Mr. Naidu to make the statement he made, and that he himself was responsible for what he had said, also came up during the meeting. It is understood that Mr. Naidu said he was "hurt" by "various statements coming from various quarters in the party". At that point, Mr. Vajpayee apparently said the issue should be treated as closed and that he did not approve of it being unnecessarily carried forward by anyone in the party.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Naidu briefed Mr. Vajpayee in detail on the various party meetings that had taken place in Jaipur, Guwahati, Chennai and Delhi as well as the agenda of the `chintan baithak' to be held near Mumbai from June 17.
On Friday, Pramod Mahajan, general secretary, also discussed with the Prime Minister the detailed agenda of the four-day `baithak'.
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