Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who turns 88 on Christmas Day, remains one of India’s most popular and charismatic political leaders whose name continues to be invoked by party campaigners. But his health remains a cause of concern and those in the know say he is often confined to a wheelchair and fails to recognise people. No one, not even BJP leaders are willing to talk publicly about Vajpayee’s health. But those who have access to him are unanimous that he is seriously unwell. The assessments, however, vary. Besides dementia, the veteran leader, who was three-time prime minister, is known to be a longterm diabetic. He also has agerelated illness. When he was prime minister, Vajpayee underwent knee replacement surgery at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai in 2001. A relative said doctors are against too many people calling on him . Informed sources said only close relatives and senior party leaders are permitted to call on him and that too only occasionally.