Virendra Kapoor
  Increasingly, the Sangh Parivar is getting disillusioned with what one of its out-of-commission ideologues, Govindacharaya, had dubbed its mukhota (mask). Aka Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The reason: the mukhota's failure to deliver. Parivar leaders believe the Vajpayee government's failure to make a tangible difference in governance will cost the BJP dear in the next battle at the hustings.

Leading lights of the RSS and BJP are particularly miffed with the prime minister for what they call his weak-kneed Kashmir policy. Instead of first silencing the militants and then offering the olive branch of a unilateral cease-fire, they complain Vajpayee has chosen to reverse the order.

And thus all the more emboldened the militants now freely target armed forces personnel and seek to indulge in ethnic cleansing by selectively killing members of the minority Sikh community.

That the cease-fire might have been arranged by the US in to try and lower Indo-Pak tensions in the post-nuclear phase on the subcontinent is of no consequence to RSS hardliners who want Kashmir sanitised of militants at all costs.

A day after the killing of six innocent Sikhs in Srinagar last week the disgust of die-hard Sangh Parivaris was hard to hide. They dubbed Vajpayee a 'weak PM.'

Said a senior RSS leader: "From Kashmir militants to the President of India, everyone is thumbing his nose at the PM because he is weak and clueless."

Indeed, one of them made bold to say all that the PM seemed good for was bhashanbazi (public speaking).

Be it political-bureaucratic corruption or mis-governance or influence peddling, the Vajpayee-led administration is thought to be no worse or better than the previous Third Front or Congress governments.

In part the feeling of disillusionment against the PM arises from the fact that for close to 50 years he, and to a lesser extent L K Advani, had torn into successive Congress governments for their acts of omission and commission.

The implication was that when they came to power they would not make the same mistakes. But that is exactly what happened.

Admittedly, the system of governance has become so ossified that unless a truly strong leader is at the helm the administration would not respond. Vajpayee at best is a status quoist who will not upset the established order.
Thus, the growing disenchantment in the Sangh Parivar with the PM. Parivar purists are also unhappy that the durbari culture, which thrived under the Congress, is alive and kicking under the Vajpayee dispensation.

So disillusioned are Sangh leaders with Vajpayee's performance that they do not rule out the possibility of Sonia Gandhi winning the next general election.

Tea party after the quake

On January 26, Gujarat was rocked by the worst earthquake ever in the country's history. That very day, President K R Narayanan went ahead with his 'at home' at Rashtrapati Bhavan for over a thousand people, though there was enough time for him to cancel the event.

Dry day?

Republic Day being a dry day, it so happened that the younger brother of a senior minister in the Vajpayee government felt like having a drink. So he sent one of the many hangers-on at his brother's palatial bungalow to fetch him a bottle of whiskey. After scurrying half of New Delhi the HO managed only a quarter litre of whiskey in a plastic pouch.

The minister's brother was upset at the sight of the pouch. After all, if his brother could insist on only the most expensive mineral water in the wastelands of Bihar, how could he be expected to make do with a cheap pouch of whiskey? So what if all the capital's liquor shops were closed on R-Day.

After imbibing the brew, the mantri's bro again summoned the HO. This time, to fetch him a call girl. The HO set out on the mission and sure enough within an hour was back with what looked like a daintily dressed young woman.

After about half an hour the ministerial brother summoned the HO and beat him black and blue. The 'woman' turned out to be a eunuch.

Design: Lynette Menezes

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