Zee News featured an interview of Atalji with veteran journalist Rahul Dev on 16 April. It was supposed to be a short routine interview, but instead came out saying a lot of unsaid things about the contender to the post of next PM. I had only read about Bahadur Shah Zafar's last days and perhaps he wouldn't have been much different from what Atalji looked. The grand old man of India was truly in bad form, staring hard at Rahul most of the times, wary of the questions about his own constituency from where he filed his nominations on the day. The answers were crisp and canny on Foreign affairs and Indo-Pak relationships but lack-luster on the fate of the country, its economy and the future 5-years that BJP promises to present. It was as if the Foreign Minister concealed in his inner layers had unraveled himself.

Atalji has exiled himself much earlier than the elections it seems. the erudite politician in him was bitter on Vainkaiya Naidu's remark about him having no contender at all. “It's all rubbish”, he said, clearly annoyed the over-the-top way party is projecting and depending on him. Dev was very candid to ask him whether the “moderate and liberal” face of the BJP and the Sangh parivar were only temporary during his stay or they would ever be institutionalized. “We have to do it and we are working on it, who would have thought the Sangh people would behave the way like they are doing,” said the mask with a false glimmer on his face but a visible apprehension in his eyes.

PS: Daniel has this interesting quick-poll on “Who should be Prime Minister after Vajpayee?”.