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Shatrughan Sinha's view of BJP: One-man show by two-man army

What was the status of the ministers? Frightened, terrified, shivering…. Can’t appoint a PA on their own, says Shotgun

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi
  • Published 7.04.19, 7:42 AM
  • Updated 7.04.19, 7:42 AM
  • 2 mins read
Shatrughan Sinha at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday. Prem Singh

Shatrughan Sinha, who spent around three decades in the BJP, on Saturday painted a grim picture of Narendra Modi’s cabinet where ministers — terrified and powerless — couldn’t even appoint their own personal assistants.

Although the Opposition has often levelled allegations about a total concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office, an insider saying so lends credibility to the widely held impression.

“It’s a one-man show and two-man army,” Sinha, who formally joined the Congress on Saturday, told a media conference, his central theme being the attitudes of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

“They turned democracy into autocracy. There’s no communication within the BJP; nobody listens and anybody not toeing their line will be crushed. Nobody can speak the truth. I mustered the courage to speak the truth and this was taken as a negative attribute.”

The irrepressible actor, who has worked in over 100 films and been a member of Parliament and a Union minister, explained why he had been cornered.

“They say I was angry because I didn’t become a minister (in the Modi government). It is another story why I was not made a minister — was there a corruption charge against me, was I not capable? But what was the status of the ministers? Frightened, terrified, shivering…. Can’t appoint a PA (personal assistant) on their own; can’t take any decision without clearance from the PMO,” he said before going on to mention the sidelined veterans.

“How was the veteran L.K. Advani treated? You can feel the pain in the blog he wrote recently. You saw what was done to Jaswant Singh. Yashwant Sinha was forced to quit the party. Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Shourie and now Sumitra Mahajan have met with the same fate. I was cornered because I raised valid questions. I said, ‘Fulfil promises, listen to what the Opposition is saying, answer their questions’. The Opposition also speaks in the national interest.”

Sinha rued that the media too had been compelled to “sing Rag Darbari (resort to sycophancy)” but said: “Now people have realised the truth, seen through the falsehood of their promises. They can now see the writing on the wall. The bluff has been called.”

He described Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the face and future of the country and slammed the demonetisation as the “biggest scandal” while referring to the Rafale deal, flawed GST, unemployment and agrarian distress.

Sinha expressed his pain at having to leave the BJP after such a long association. But he defended himself, arguing that the party he had known during the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani had ceased to exist and that he had seen “lokshahi” (democracy) turn into “tanashahi” (autocracy) in the last five years.

The Congress announced Sinha’s candidature from Patna Sahib, which he has represented twice in the Lok Sabha. Sinha will take on minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has never won any election in his life.

The Congress welcomed Sinha enthusiastically, with party communications chief Randeep Surjewala describing the veteran as “spiritually, ideologically and academically” close to the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

K.C. Venugopal, general secretary in charge of the organisation, described Sinha as one of the “best politicians” in the country.

The Congress’s Bihar minder, Shaktisinh Gohil, said: “If somebody lies, he will say — ‘Khamosh (Shut up)!’ That’s Shatrughan’s nature. But I know the Modi-Shah duo; there is no space for such people in their system.”

In Shatrughan, the Congress has gained a star campaigner who will address election rallies across the country.