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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
India dismisses PM lifestyle claims
Atal Behari Vajpayee
The article said Vajpayee suffers from bladder problems

The Indian Government has issued a riposte to an article in Time magazine which suggested that the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, enjoyed a nightly drink of whisky and frequently fell asleep at meetings.


It's baseless, it's ill-advised

Nirupama Rao, Indian foreign ministry
A foreign ministry spokesman said the article was completely biased and ill informed.

The piece was not exactly hostile - it gave Mr Vajpayee credit for pursuing peace with Pakistan despite leading a political constituency "stuffed with extremists".

It also concluded: "For the past four years the Indian prime minister's grandfatherly hands have held the subcontinent back from tumbling into war."

But for an international statesman to be called "grandfatherly" is not a compliment, and the article's description of his health and lifestyle have raised hackles in Delhi.

Whiskey and siestas

It alleges that he used to drink heavily and still enjoys a nightly whisky or two, details his bladder, liver and kidney problems, and says he has a long nap every afternoon, refuses to stick to his diet, and is - in the words of the article - given to interminable silences, indecipherable ramblings, and falling asleep in meetings.

Asked about the article, the foreign ministry spokesman, Nirupama Rao, was damning.

"I have seen that article. It's completely without foundation. It's baseless, it's ill-advised, it certainly doesn't fall into the category of the kind of reporting one would have expected from Time magazine. It's a completely biased and an ill-informed article."

Now Mr Vajpayee's office has issued a formal response, stressing particularly that the prime minister does not drink alcohol, and saying there is nothing wrong with his bladder or liver.

As for the naps, Mr Vajpayee's spokesman pointed out that he is now 77, not 74 as the article stated, and suggests that "a post-lunch siesta is nothing unusual" given the prime minister's punishing schedule.

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07 Jan 02 | South Asia
17 Jun 02 | South Asia
11 Jun 02 | South Asia
07 Feb 02 | South Asia
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