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Atal pops up on Cong website, BJP jeers

New Delhi, April 11: The Congress today posted an article on Atal Bihari Vajpayee on its website to appeal to voters to reject Narendra Modi, inviting ridicule from the BJP.

The article — entitled “Can you hand over the country’s future in the hands of a leader whom former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not consider fit to be chief minister?” — attacks the BJP for sidelining the legacy of Vajpayee, its leader of unmatched stature, and embracing Modi.

The article revisits the 2002 Gujarat riots and points out how Vajpayee wanted Modi removed as Gujarat chief minister to restore the BJP’s “credibility”.

“Some people wanted to remove him. I was of the same opinion,” the article quotes Vajpayee as having said and adds that expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh confirmed the statement.

The BJP was quick to ridicule the Congress for forgetting its own leaders in apparent desperation after three rounds of elections confirmed a wave in favour of that party.

“Congress has forgotten their leaders — Nehru, Indira and others. In the morning, they remember Advani and evening Vajpayee. Soon they will start remembering Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi and then others in BJP,” former BJP chief Venkaiah Naidu said.

Naidu termed it “desperation” after three rounds of elections showed the BJP much ahead of others. “Congress and the third front put together will not be close enough,” he said.

The article, with a picture of Vajpayee on red background, points out how people close to him — such as niece Karuna Shukla and Jaswant — were being edged out of the party and those opposed to him — such as Subramanian Swamy — were being given important positions.

“The BJP might forget Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But every Indian must ponder over the questions he raised on the man who is now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate,” the article says.

It points out how Vajpayee wrote several letters to Modi asking him to do everything necessary for the riot victims and alleged that the chief minister chose to ignore it.

“It is evident that Shri Vajpayee believed that the Gujarat CM had not only been inept but downright partisan in his handling of the riots.”

The article coincided with the Congress approaching the poll panel on Modi’s marital status, alleging he had broken the law by not disclosing details about his wife earlier.

“We have given a plea to the Election Commission. In his affidavit, Narendra informed that he is married. Prior to that, none of his affidavits mention this. It is, hence, proven those affidavits were wrong,” Kapil Sibal, who moved the poll panel, said.

Modi poems

Sixty-seven poems by Modi on subjects as diverse as patriotism, love, nature, friendship and progress will be published in English but in none does he speak about politics or his family.

A Journey: Poems by Narendra Modi is translated from Gujarati by author Ravi Mantha.

In the book’s foreword, Modi writes that his poems are “screams of thoughts” that he has “witnessed, experienced and sometimes imagined”.

“I don’t consider my poetry to be extraordinary literary creation. These are screams of thoughts, like a spring of fresh water. Of things I have witnessed, experienced and sometimes imagined,” he says.

According to Mantha, Modi has touched on subjects like patriotism, love, longing, love of nature, friendship and progress.

“None of the poems is related to politics or speaks of politics,” Mantha told PTI.

He has not talked about his family in any poem but his friends find a mention.

Mantha found a poem about Modi’s friend Ramesh Parekh, who passed away some years ago, most touching. “It is about his deep sense of loss at losing a friend,” he said.

The book will hit the bookstores around April 20.