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Atal frowns, album fades

New Delhi, April 4: Even a master censor could not have wielded the scissors so well.

A few stern words from the Prime Minister and 52 of his photographs have vanished from the BJP’s 47-page vision document that was released earlier this week. Only two remain in the new version.

The document now has Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the cover and the back page. On the cover is a large picture of a smiling Prime Minister. On the back page he is shown in the company of deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu and seven BJP chief ministers.

The only other picture apart from those of Vajpayee is that of Naidu addressing a party conclave.

According to sources, the earlier document with pictures of “a young, middle-aged and old Vajpayee” had upset the Prime Minister so much that he ticked off those who had overseen the publication of the document.

Vajpayee expressed his displeasure to Pramod Mahajan when the general secretary, along with Naidu, called on him soon after the document was released.

The Prime Minister directed Mahajan to remove all but two of his pictures. Earlier, the BJP had justified carrying 54 pictures of the Prime Minister on the ground that the BJP’s growth was synonymous with Vajpayee’s stature.

The photographs in the earlier document showed Vajpayee evolving through various phases of India’s politics. For instance, on page 13, there are two pictures of Vajpayee. One shows him addressing a rally in 1955 to express solidarity for the Goa liberation struggle, while the other shows him sipping tea at a discourse. On page 15, Vajpayee was shown working on a charkha at the Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad and addressing a convention on the development of minorities in Delhi.

Following the release of the document, the Congress, the main Opposition party, had taken a dig at the BJP, saying the party was promoting a Vajpayee cult.

The earlier document had two pictures of Advani who is shown standing beside a sitting Vajpayee. They prompted caustic remarks from Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal.

Yeh kab tak khade rahenge. Yeh tab bhi khade the, ab bhi khade hai (When will Advani sit on the chair' He was standing then, even now he is standing),” Sibal said.

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