Bollywood actor and former BJP Union minister Shatrughan Sinha told the media in Ranchi on Thursday that he was thankful that he was accepted in the Congress fold and made a star campaigner by the party.
Justifying his decision to shift to the Congress last month after being “disenchanted” by the BJP, the 73-year-old said, “There were offers from many others but I chose Congress because of its standing.”
Asked by a reporter why he chose a two-man-army party (read Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi), Sinha, known as Shotgun for his outspokenness, remarked, “BJP is no different, rather it is a one-man show and two-man army.” However, he did not name PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
“I changed the party only once in my life where as many others have done so several times,” Sinha said about shifting his political allegiance. “Tum karo to raasleela, main karun to character dheela (If you do it, it’s fun, if I do it, my character’s under question),” he quipped sarcastically.
“The Congress gives due importance to nationalism and development which is visible in the case of many great institutions that it built when it was in power,” Sinha said, adding he began in Gaya in Bihar and had already campaigned in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh before coming to Jharkhand.
He said he had been critical of many decisions of the BJP “such as demonetisation and imposing GST”. “I thought those would be taken up for discussion at a proper platform but that was never done,” he said, adding no promise, be it creating employment or smart cities, was fulfilled either.
In an earlier meeting in Ranchi over six years ago, Sinha had said how BJP patriarch L.K. Advani had brought him to the BJP in the early 1990s though he was reluctant to join politics.
“You all know I was nurtured and groomed by Advaniji and I still have the same respect for him,” Sinha said. “But the situation (in the BJP) changed and I had to choose between autocratic functioning (of BJP) and collective decision making (of Congress), so I chose the second.” Sinha also pointed out the shabby treatment that the BJP meted out to its veteran party leaders such as Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha.
Sinha had made his election debut in 1992 when he contested against his friend and co-actor Rajesh Khanna in a bypoll for the New Delhi seat that Advani had vacated after winning two seats. Sinha not only lost the election but also Khanna’s friendship, that could not be repaired. Sinha later regretted having contesting that election against a friend.
Asked if he would regret joining the Congress in the same way, Sinha said, “That was different as I regret that I couldn’t make up with Rajesh Khanna, but this is a well-thought-out decision.”
At the end, on the request from a reporter, he repeated his famous single-word dialogue from the 1974 film Badla. “Khamosh!” thundered Sinha in his indomitable style, as if to silence his critics.