Perhaps it is about the political culture of the times. Far more than deputy prime minister L.K. Advani or West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, it is Calcutta's bhadralok political class which is all agog as to why the two get along so famously. The press writes about it and in the city's ageless addas the 'friendship' often comes up for discussion. Meanwhile, equally intrigued are the CPI(M)'s allies and state BJP leaders.
That, however, has done little to ruffle the two. And neither of them is defensive about the 'friendship'. Says Buddhadeb: "I do not see why I should quarrel with nda leaders when I discuss official matters with them. Personally, I have had no problems, they generally live up to their official commitments. Mr Advani has certainly helped the state in some matters. Our politics, of course, will always differ." Perhaps it's this ostensible separation of the personal and the political that leads Buddhadeb, when he's calling on Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee for administrative reasons, to enquire at the end whether he has penned any new poem. The deputy PM is no less open. He said as much at a recent party meeting in West Bengal when state leaders raised a faint murmur of protest over his relations with the CM, which, they suggested, undermined their position. Said Advani, "You should fight the CPI(M) politically. How I and Bhattacharya get along has nothing to do with this."