The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Secret of Naidu’s energy: Atal boost

Mumbai, June 18: Move over vikas purush, lauh purush. Here come Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

After M. Venkaiah Naidu’s lauh purush crumbled in the mighty embrace of Atal Bihari Vajpayee — if there’s an analogy with Dhritarashtra crushing an iron lookalike of Bhim, it’s only incidental — and thereby the BJP chief’s labels for the party’s Big Two died a premature death, new parallels were dragged out from history today.

Naidu, having received from Vajpayee, whom he had so disastrously described as vikas purush, a public let-off, compared the Prime Minister and his deputy — known as lauh purush for a short while — to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.

Aware of the cataclysm he had set off by saying that the BJP would go to polls under the stewardship of L.K. Advani — after Naidu unveiled the two purush tags — Vajpayee set about repairing the damage to the party president’s image.

“I am astonished by his (Naidu’s) energy level,” Vajpayee cooed, much to the delight and relief of the embattled BJP chief. “He has tirelessly worked to enliven the activities of the party,” the Prime Minister said at the so-called chintan baithak.

The pat on the back is being interpreted by BJP watchers as a public display by Vajpayee that all is forgiven, at least for now, as Naidu would have liked.

“If all the functionaries and activists work with such enthusiasm (as Naidu’s), I have no doubt that we shall overcome all challenges before us and march towards success,” Vajpayee said.

Completing the show of camaraderie, the Prime Minister slipped in a few words of praise for his deputy, too. The Prime Minister’s statement — after Naidu’s purush seemed to put the two leaders on the same pedestal — that “Advaniji will lead the party to victory in the next election” had caused embarrassment to his deputy also.

Advani was not present at the session today because he is on his way back from a foreign trip, but Vajpayee laid out the welcome mat by highlighting how the two work in consonance.

“He (Advani) is a source of strength to me in government.” Not only is Advani ably performing the double role of BJP leader and the country’s deputy Prime Minister, he is also devoting a lot of time and energy to guide the party, Vajpayee added.

A relieved Naidu returned the compliment and said it was the party’s “good fortune” to have a great leader in Vajpayee.

Then came the parallels with Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay — the first a parliamentarian, good speaker and very much the public face of the Jan Sangh, the BJP’s parent, and the second an ideologue and very much the man of the organisation.

For signals if the descriptions sit easy on the shoulders of the duo they are meant for, keep watching.

A recharged Naidu underlined the BJP’s umbilical relationship with the RSS. In the presence of RSS leader Madan Das Devi, he said the BJP was proud of its association with the Sangh. The statement came a day after the Sangh appeared to throw its weight behind the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, insisting that the VHP cannot be kept out of any negotiations on Ayodhya.

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