It may be recalled that on August 4 Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee addressed the Lok Sabha to assure the House that his original stand on the Ayodhya temple stood intact. The Opposition refused to accept his explanation because on August 1, during the condolence meeting for Ramchandra Paramhans, the PM had endorsed the VHP's hard line.
After addressing Parliament, the PM returned to his residence. It was then that the crisis erupted. At 7, Race Course Road the security officials accompanying the PM were dumbfounded to find another Vajpayee in the house. This was the Vajpayee who attended the condolence meeting. He had rested during the weekend. The security officials were totally nonplussed at confronting the two Vajpayees indistinguishable from one another. Clearly one was an impostor who had succeeded with a sensational breach of security, but which one?
In the confusion, both claimants were accommodated in different rooms. The matter was kept top secret and only L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi and RSS boss K.S. Sudarshan were taken into confidence. These three leaders decided to allow both the Vajpayees to attend to the PM's duties on alternate days till the issue was resolved.
It is understood that Sudarshan considers the Vajpayee who attended the condolence meeting to be the genuine article and the other an impostor. However, Advani and Joshi consider the one who addressed Parliament as the authentic Vajpayee.
The forensic laboratory scientists are also helpless. In the absence of dna samples of the authentic PM, they cannot make any verification. Even attorney general Soli Sorabjee was consulted. He said with the meagre evidence available, no court could decide the issue.
Meanwhile, both the Vajpayees have developed cordial relations, though neither has relinquished his claim. The issue can now be resolved only through an amicable settlement between the two. A top intelligence official told this correspondent: "The real Vajpayee must be identified immediately and he must stand up! If the crisis becomes public, people will be torn apart! The nation could disintegrate!"