The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress cries for Atal

New Delhi, June 25: As the BJP struggles to sort out the joke from the serious stuff, one party that is having a hearty laugh is the rival Congress.

It urged the BJP to act “gracefully” towards former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and show respect for age.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said today: “What is happening is a reflection of the utter chaos and confusion in the BJP. It’s a sad day and a sorry plight that the great Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was supposed to be immune from criticism from the Congress, is now being showered with abuses from his own party. We request the BJP to act gracefully in defeat and have respect for age.”

Such touching concern may or may not touch a chord in the BJP or even in Vajpayee, but the controversy over Narendra Modi’s fate within the party is an unexpected bonanza for the Congress in its first days in office.

Instead of the Opposition focusing attention on the new government’s performance, the eyes of the people have been fixed on the BJP power struggle.

Vajpayee has come out of the Mumbai national executive as a loser, after having set in motion what seemed to be a process to get rid of the Gujarat chief minister. Modi not only stays, the BJP has even disowned Vajpayee’s policy of making it an all-inclusive political entity.

Singhvi referred to the way the first session of Parliament under the new government was not allowed to function, but only to highlight the BJP’s troubles.

“What happened in Parliament was disgraceful but need they be disgraceful towards an erstwhile leader who led them for five years'” he asked.

Singhvi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first address to the nation yesterday voiced the “principal concerns and considerations” brought up by the Congress and its allies in the poll campaign. The speech reflected the “personality of a man concerned with people’s problems”.

“In stark contrast, we have nothing but sympathy for the former PM who is reduced to cracking jokes, perhaps, to protect himself from his party’s hotheads. We all share his sense of humour but we are not sure whether reducing politics to a farce is the right sense of humour,” he said.

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