BJP hopes to sail with ailing Vajpayee

October 22nd, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is desperately hoping to gain mileage from its ailing star campaigner, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in the run up to the general elections early next year - provided he gets the green signal from his doctors.”Atalji is our stalwart. Forget about the people at large, even we feel his absence in the party. It all depends upon doctors allowing him to attend two to three rallies,” senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj told IANS.

Vajpayee has been taking a backseat from active politics ever since the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was voted out of power in the May 2004 Lok Sabha poll. He attended a few sessions of the house that year - but chose to occupy the back benches. Since then, he is rarely seen in public and is confined to his home due to age-related problems.

That he remains alert can be gauged from the fact that he was quick to issue a congratulatory message Wednesday to scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation on the launch of the country’s first unmanned lunar mission. In fact, it was Vajpayee who had given the mission its name - Chandrayaan.

Vajpayee has also declared that he would not contest the 2009 polls.

“We hope his appeal for the party would work among the people, with two to three rallies,” said a source in the party.

These expected rallies would be held in north India, with one most likely to be in Lucknow - Vajpayee’s parliamentary constituency.

At the moment, no one in the party is ready to confirm the dates on which Vajpayee could be seen in public.

BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that no programmes had as yet been scheduled for Vajpayee.

“There’s still time to the general elections. No formal programmes have been chalked out yet. We cannot say anything because of the status of his (Vajpayee’s) health,” Naqvi told IANS.

Former party president M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “We all would like to see Atalji campaigning for the party but can’t confirm anything because of his health.”

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