Mumbai: In 2003, the then prime minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s office denied that George W Bush sought
his help in the US-led war in Iraq but veteran journalist
Vinod Mehta says Vajpayee told him that the American president
had asked for Indian troops to be deployed there.
"My best friend in politics was a gentleman called
Atal Behari Vajpayee. One day, I was sitting with him and he
said he was expecting a phone call from George."
"I said is it George Fernandes? He said, no, George
Bush. Soon the call came. He returned after 5-10 minutes. I
asked him what happened. Vajpayee said, George says you send
your soldiers in Iraq."
"I asked him what had he told Bush. Vajpayee replied I
told him I will think it over," Mehta, editor-in-chief of
Outlook, said at a function here Tuesday night to celebrate the
magazine completing 15 years.
Recalling the witty side of Vajpayee, Mehta said he
used to meet the BJP stalwart frequently and chat and share
"He was normally full of humour but one day, when I
went to meet him, I said Vajpayee ji, today you don`t look the
usual cheerful self. He said after you leave, (AIADMK leader)
Jayalalitha will come."
Delhi is full of editors who think they run the
country, Mehta said. "We journalists may have the best seats
in the match but we are not the players. We make the mistake
of thinking that we are players," he said.