Vajpayee—the liberal conservative or the one who bent with the wind?
An astute politician who aspired to be a statesman, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not without inconsistencies, says Vinod Mehta in 'Lucknow Boy'
In 1999, the third BJP-led coalition in four years came to power. As far as numbers were concerned, both the party (with 182 seats) and the coalition (with 296 seats) seemed comfortably placed. Instead of the troublesome Jayalalithaa, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had the less troublesome Karunanidhi inside the tent. The pundits predicted a full term for Mr Vajpayee and his coalition. Atalji mostly got the cabinet of his choice, with Jaswant Singh—humiliatingly barred by RSS in the 13-month 1998 coalition—as foreign minister.