NEW DELHI: Getting trapped has its benefits, sometimes.
The government has gifted veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee a BMW car after the former prime minister got stuck in his trusty old Ambassador on Friday.
No one quite knows how it happened, but both the rear doors of the erstwhile symbol of political power in India got jammed with Vajpayee in the back seat. Desperate efforts to prise either door open failed.
Ultimately, the octogenarian Vajpayee had to perform something of an acrobatic act to get out of the tight spot. He squeezed through the gap between the bucket seats in front, over the gear lever, and out.
An aide to the former prime minister said he was none the worse for the exertion, and that the incident had put paid to persistent speculation about the state of his knees and his health.
Embarrassed officers of Vajpayee's security detail immediately whisked away the defective car and replaced it with another Ambassador. As a former prime minister, Vajpayee is entitled to Z+ security.
By evening, however, the Manmohan Singh government replaced Vajpayee's official vehicle with a swanky BMW from the Prime Minister's car pool.
The three bullet-proof BMWs in the pool had been procured when Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, exclusively for his use. But, contrary to reports in the media, Vajpayee had returned to the good old Ambassador after demitting office. Congress president and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi also uses an Amby.
Two of the BMWs in the pool are reserved for Prime Minister Singh. The third has now been allotted to Vajpayee.