The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deputy fields post-Atal question

London, June 17 (PTI): Dismissing any leadership controversy in the NDA, .K. Advani today said that if for any reason the Prime Minister stepped aside, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made his choice clear by designating him as deputy Prime Minister, although the issue was hypothetical.

(However, the news agency later “killed” the version based on Advani’s interview to a television channel and sent a substitute.

The substitute said Advani dismissed a suggestion that a “dual leadership” existed in the NDA government and quoted the deputy Prime Minister as saying that a leader has to be one and Vajpayee “is my leader”.

Asked what would happen if for some reason, Vajpayee left office, Advani told BBC Asia Today: “I happen to be deputy Prime Minister. That in itself indicates what he (Vajpayee) is thinking.”

“But I think it is to our advantage and to the country’s advantage that he continues to guide us for many more years to come,” he said.)

Asked whether he, as a “hardliner”, would be acceptable as a leader to all sections, Advani said: “It is just a hypothetical question. I am what I am. I don’t regret it that way.

“I came to public life and to the Jana Sangh and to politics as his (Vajpayee’s) colleague and we worked together for all these years since 1952,” he said.

The deputy Prime Minister said every single major decision in the government had been taken “in consultation between the two (Vajpayee and Advani)”.

Asked if this meant effective dual leadership, Advani said: “It is his (Vajpayee’s) leadership. It is not dual leadership. A leader has to be one and he is my leader.”

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