| Policemen look out of a window on the floor on which Praveen’s flat is located. Picture by Gajanan Dudhalkar
Mumbai, April 23: Atal Bihari Vajpayee picked up the thread left behind by Amitabh Bachchan as a steady stream of politicians and celebrities kept flowing to Hinduja hospital to enquire after Pramod Mahajan’s condition.
Besides the former Prime Minister, the vice-president, two chief ministers, at least one big-ticket industrialist, several film stars and countless politicians trooped to the hospital, befitting Pramod’s undeclared title as the savviest networker in the BJP.
Vajpayee arrived this afternoon and, before leaving, said in characteristic poetic flourish: “Woh maut ko maat dete hue jai ka sandesh lekar hamare beech vapas aayenge (He will defeat death and return among us with a message of victory).”
On a more sombre note, he added: “Pramodji’s condition is better than yesterday. I appreciate the patience and courage shown by his family in this hour of crisis.”
Vajpayee was scheduled to attend a tribute organised by Pramod in Delhi in the form of the launch of a book containing the former Prime Minister’s non-political speeches.
Apart from handling the current round of Assembly elections for the party in Assam, Mahajan was busy putting together the book, Rajniti Ke Us Paar, containing 25 speeches of Vajpayee. The launch was slated on May 10 by vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who also reached the Mumbai hospital today.
The hospital entrance had turned into a milling ground of celebrities since yesterday noon. Late last night, Bachchan, accompanied by his wife Jaya and Anil Ambani, had capped the long line of well-wishers who had made it to the hospital.
Today, chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Nitish Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Dharmendra and Dara Singh were among those who called on Pramod.