When Vajpayee gently snubbed Shatrughan

There was a time when the troika of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Shatrughan Sinha would be the star campaigners for the saffron party. 

Knowing very well that Shatrughan was an Advani protege, Vajpayee always gave ample space (during party rallies) to Shatrughan and fondly called him 'Bihari Babu'.

In one such rally at Patna, around 27-years-ago, Vajpayee was delivering his firebrand speech. An orator par excellence, Vajpayee started feeling a bit distracted when Shatrughan arrived on the dais. The mad crowd at the historic Gandhi Maidan started making demand that Vajpayee cut short his speech so that they could hear their “very own Bihari Babu”.

As Shatrughan got up from his chair and waved at the gathering, the crowd became restless and started shouting slogans in favour of Shatrughan. Slogans like “Desh ka neta kaisa ho, Bihari Babu jaisa ho” rent the air.

Vajpayee was embarrassed. He had by then stopped his speech midway so that the crowd could be asked to remain calm and quiet. When Shatrughan's supporters continued to embarrass the most towering BJP leader of the day, the veteran parliamentarian took a potshot at Shatrughan and his wayward supporters.

“Main jaanta hoon ki yeh manch Bihari Babu ke liye hai. Lekin Bihari Babu bhi jaante hain ki yeh manch Atal Bihari ke liye hai. (I know this platform is for Bihari Babu. But Bihari Babu too knows that this dais is for Atal Bihari),” said Vajpayee.

There was pin-drop silence. Vajpayee, through his one-liner, had made the restive crowd speechless. Shatrughan, through gesture, apologised to the veteran leader and asked the crowd to remain calm.

Vajpayee continued with his speech. But, by then, he had got a bad taste about the gathering which wanted to dwarf his stature in front of a BJP-newcomer Shatrughan.

 

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