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“Is the Ailing and Frail Vajpayee the Right Man to Have His Finger on the Button?

“Is the Ailing and Frail Vajpayee the Right Man to Have His Finger on the Button?

Posted June. 16, 2002 08:47,   


“Is the ailing and frail Vajpayee the right man to have his finger on the button?”

According to the latest issue(17th of the month) of ‘TIME ASIA’, Despite the easing of tensions between the two countries for disputed Kashmir region, the health of Atal Bihari Vajpayee can still be affected for a war

Vajpayee, 74 years old India`s leader takes painkillers for his knees (which were replaced due to arthritis) and has trouble with his bladder, liver and his one remaining kidney because of his bad eating habit. A taste for fried food and fatty sweets plays havoc with his cholesterol. He takes a three-hour snooze every afternoon on doctor`s orders

The frail bachelor seems shaky and lost, less an aging sage than an ordinary old man. He forgets names, even of longtime colleague and current Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, and during several recent meetings he appeared confused and inattentive. After a meeting with a Western Foreign Minister, his appearance was described by one attending diplomat as "half dead."

In India, no one officially and publicly mentions his health problem. No one questions that key decisions on national security and foreign policy are still made by Vajpayee.

Accordingly, Western countries have concerned about his ‘nuclear decision’.

One of Indian BJP workers says “He is very alert when he is functional”. “But there are very few hours like that” adds one Western diplomat.

Jong-Dae Ha orionha@donga.com