Veteran Bhartiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha (83), an avowed critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday. Sinha said he was returning to politics to save the country, which is going through extraordinary dark times. He said the ongoing West Bengal Assembly elections pose a threat to the country's freedom if the BJP wins this election.
Sinha raised several issues at the press meet today -- the ongoing farmers' agitation and the border situation with China. He lambasted the Modi government. “There is no one to stop the government's wrongdoing. The BJP during Atal ji's time believed in consensus but today's government believes in crushing and conquering. The Akalis, the BJD have left the BJP. Today, who is standing with BJP?" Mr Sinha said.
Recalling his days with Mamata Banarjee, as a colleague, Sinha said the TMC chief has been a "fighter" right from the beginning. "I have worked with her under PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee. I can tell you she has been a fighter, he said. He added, “1 want to tell you today that when the Indian Airlines plane was hijacked to Kandahar, there was a discussion happening in the Cabinet. Mamatji offered to go herself as a hostage on the condition that the Indians are released in exchange. She was ready to make that sacrifice," he said.
He is tipped to fill the vacancy in the Rajya Sabha, caused by Dinesh Trivedi (70), who quit the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC to join the BJP on March 6. Sinha will pose trouble to the Modi government in Parliament as he knows the BJP inside out. An IAS officer-turned politico, Sinha has held various positions in the government at the centre as finance and external affairs minister.
Sinha may not have any vote bank in West Bengal despite a sizeable Bihari population in the state and as such the TMC may not get much votes from his joining the party but his fierce campaign will certainly affect the BJP dreaming of coming to power in West Bengal.
Sinha's son Jayant Sinha, an investment consultant, was the civil aviation minister in the first term of the Modi government and currently an MP from Hazaribagh in Bihar.
Sinha entered politics in 1984 by joining the Janata Party. He rose to be its national general secretary in 1986. He later moved to the Janata Dal in 1989 and served then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar as finance minister for eight months from November 1990 to June 1991.
Sinha became a national spokesman of the BJP in June 1996 and appointed first as finance minister in March 1988 in the Chandra Shekhar government and again in the Vajpayee government that he quit in 2002 to become an external affairs minister replacing late Jaswant Singh.. He re-entered Parliament in 2005, but quit as the BJP vice-president in June 2009 and quit the party in 2018 citing the party's condition that put "democracy in India in great danger."