Date: 4/25/2001


If Vajpayee, Then Why Not Nehru

How many people know that India's Vajpayee became indisposed recently? It all happened this way. Shri Atal Bihari went to spend a few days of rest at Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Apparently, it is a very nice place and very invigorating too. Vajpayee-ji took a few of his near and dear ones with him to spend the few days of calm and rest. There was no longer the imposed rush and hurry that go with visitors like William Jefferson Clinton, who in his inexhaustible energy usually kept every one else constantly on the move.

It was said that Vajpayee-ji, the foster-father will take his adopted daughter with him, to spend the few days together at Manali. But then, don't they say, "Man proposes and God disposes?" Shortly, Vajpayee-ji fell ill. He had some trouble with the cold weather of Manali and he had the usual respiratory problem. Nothing to be seriously worried about but then one could not ignore it either! The news of Vajpayee's cold appeared in the Indian press. No doubt, he was looked after by very competent doctors and soon enough the Indian PM recouped.

Then the inquires about ABV's health started coming in. How was he? Is he on normal diet now? Who is or are looking after his health ? Such was the nature of the inquiries. Of course, the inquiries eventually died down as Vajpayee gained strength and the endless inquiries about ABV's health also subsided.

This brings to mind another matter that concerned a personality, a great deal more important (at least in those days) than Vajpyee's. I am referring to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the only son of Moti Lal and grandson of Ganga Dhar, the last Kotwal of Bahadur Shah Zafar of Delhi. Those who are interested, can easily discover that Jawahar had contracted a sexually transmitted disease (commonly known as STD) and no one really knew where Nehru contracted it from. However, Nehru suffered and more so because attempts had been made to suppress the news of his disease. And eventually, Nehru died after the usual pain and suffering, all by himself. On the occasion of India's 50th anniversary of national independence, the BBC showed Nehru being brought out with his two hands resting on the shoulders of two men, on either side of him, who carried Nehru in front of the camera. Nehru was weak, very weak but nevertheless he did make a frail attempt to smile in front of the camera. That picture was displayed in front of the large public, on the screen, all over the world.

The question is how come no one, but no one, was so solicitous of Jawaharlal's physical condition then as they are of Vajapyee's now? Only because, no one had told the people what kind of infection the first prime minister of India was suffering from then. The nature of the malady was such that the right answer would have brought shame not only to the patient but also to the question-asker; after all, he was the prime minister of India and the right answer would inevitably bring about the question 'where did Nehru go to acquire the malady?'. And obviously, no one had the answer to that question. In Nehru's case, those who knew did not ask and those who did not, had no reason to ask. That is why.