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Shotgun ducks Dal open invite

Patna, Jan. 12: The JD(U) today gave an open invitation to BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha to join its ranks, which the Bollywood star of yesteryears courteously turned down.

The switchover proposal came from the state JD(U) president, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, after Shatrughan was not included in the BJP’s state election campaign committee. Bashishtha said Shatrughan was welcome to join the JD(U) if he felt frustrated in his party (BJP).

Shatrughan, the Patna Sahib MP, refused the open invitation graciously. “I respect Bashishtha Narayan Singh as a person and I appreciate his words. But I am not into these lollipop games. I am not big because of my pad (post). I am big because of my kad (stature),” he told The Telegraph from New Delhi.

“I was never a member of the state election committee and I use my seniority and dedication to help the party. I hope the BJP does well in the changed scenario under the leadership of Narendra Modi with the blessings of L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh,” he added.

Shatrughan left his party red-faced several times in the past. He had hailed chief minister Nitish Kumar for ushering in development in Bihar after the JD(U)-BJP split. More recently, he described AAP as “sab ka baap” (father of all parties).

The open invitation triggered a furore in the BJP. “Nobody has given Bashishtha Babu the right to give advice in matters related to other parties,” said former BJP minister Giriraj Singh.

“For the first time, a political party has issued an appeal to a leader of another party to join it. The JD(U) must be really desperate to find a candidate for the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat,” said another BJP leader.

Some BJP leaders, however, consider Shatrughan a disaster as a Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib — the citadel of the BJP in the state — because of his inaccessibility. “But the party cannot afford to ignore him. He is a crowd-puller and his services would be required in the Lok Sabha polls,” said a senior party leader.

Sources said the BJP was looking for an alternative to Shatrughan for the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat. He might be offered a Rajya Sabha seat instead.

Shatrughan had left his party red-faced on multiple occasions. He praised chief minister Nitish Kumar for the development of Bihar even after the BJP and the JD(U) parted ways. “He not only praised Nitish, he praised Lalu Prasad when the entire BJP was on the street against fodder scam,” recalled a BJP leader.

Despite Shatrughan’s frequent jibes at his own party, he persistently maintained that he had joined the BJP when it had just two seats in the Lok Sabha. The BJP believes that no matter how much he hobnobs with the JD(U), he would not leave the party.