New Delhi, Dec. 26: Atal Bihari Vajpayee has called off his Jaipur holiday, which was slated to begin today.
The notorious December fog is just one of the reasons why the Prime Minister’s trip has been called off. Security perceptions and Vajpayee’s preoccupation with preparations for next month’s Saarc summit as well as BJP activities also led to the holiday cancellation.
BJP sources said the Prime Minister was scheduled to leave for Jaipur this morning. But the heavy morning fog, which grew more dense with each passing hour, ensured his flight could not take off till late evening. This would have left Vajpayee with just a day for his vacation since he was scheduled to return tomorrow.
Sources said it was felt he should not risk travelling by road again. Vajpayee’s midnight journey on December 24 from Jaipur to Delhi reportedly alarmed many in the BJP who wondered why he “exposed” himself to such a “huge security risk”.
Party insiders say the Prime Minister felt he should not delay his preparations for the Saarc summit unduly and instead start right away. He spent part of his day attending meetings related to the summit and giving interviews to Pakistani journalists.
With the BJP riding a Vajpayee-induced high, the Prime Minister’s attention was also taken up with planning for the party national executive, slated for January 11-12 in Hyderabad. He discussed the executive this evening with his deputy .K. Advani and BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu.
The leaders also briefed Vajpayee on yesterday’s meeting of central office-bearers and a sitting of party general secretaries this morning. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Madan Das Devi sat in on the second meeting, which deliberated on an action plan for Mission 2004 — winning the Lok Sabha elections.
The meeting reportedly discussed whether polls should be held on time or advanced — a 250- and 125-day countdown to elections was considered.
Party sources say Vajpayee was “silent” on the much talked about possible return of Kalyan Singh to the BJP fold. Kalyan’s presence at a birthday eve-function for the Prime Minister has triggered speculation that a comeback is on the cards.
Uttar Pradesh BJP sources say Kalyan’s return will benefit Vajpayee and the BJP alike. They pointed out that the Prime Minister’s winning margin in his Lucknow constituency during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections had dipped by nearly 100,000 votes despite the Kargil-induced euphoria. The dip is ascribed to Kalyan’s sabotage, which also cost the BJP 30 seats in the state.
Although the former chief minister was expelled from the party, the state BJP never recovered from the blow.
The Uttar Pradesh debacle undermined Vajpayee’s position in the BJP and he had to bow to the “party line” on Gujarat, which saw Narendra Modi continue in office despite his wishes.
“The BJP may be riding a crest of popularity in the country, but the PM probably felt his own constituency should be safe and secure so that he can campaign freely in the elections without having to sweat it out in Lucknow,” sources said of Kalyan’s likely homecoming.
A return to the BJP is also Kalyan’s “only insurance” against losing the backward caste space to Mulayam Singh Yadav and rival leaders.
Vajpayee wound up his day by watching J.P. Dutta’s LoC Kargil which was premiered for him and his foster family at the Panchvati conference hall at his 7, Race Course Road residence.