Patna: There is no contradiction in his wife Poonam Sinha contesting as a candidate of the SP-BSP alliance from Lucknow and his fighting the Patna Sahib seat as a Congress member, says actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, confident of a good performance in both the constituencies.
Sinha, who recently joined the Congress, is up against Union Law and Justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Bihar constituency he has won twice as a BJP member in what is one of the toughest challenges of his three-decade political career.
His wife Poonam Sinha, also an actor, is making her debut against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh from the Uttar Pradesh capital. Sinha, who snapped ties with the BJP earlier this month, had generous words of praise for his rival Prasad, saying his refusal to engage in personal attacks during poll campaign showed he was a “bhadralok”.
“I highly appreciate and applaud it. I have regard and respect for Ravi Shankar Prasad whom I consider a bhadralok. He is a nice man from a nice family. We have known each other for many years.. it’s a fight between two ideologies,” the Patna Sahib MP told PTI.
Sinha’s participation in the campaign in Lucknow ruffled some feathers in the Congress, which has fielded its own candidate in Lucknow. “It is my ‘patni-dharma’ and I will go to Lucknow again to campaign for my wife. Some people raised objections, but I am a man of honesty, transparency and clarity. Whatever is happening, is being done with the full consent and knowledge of Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leaders and the dynamic Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi,” Sinha said.
“Moreover, I will be going to Lucknow not under the banner of the Congress, but as a husband and the father of our children,” he said. He said the alliance between the Samajwadi Party, which Poonam Sinha joined recently, and the Bahujan Samaj Party is a “deadly combination” and he sees no contradiction in taking time off to canvass votes for his wife.
“This is nothing new. There have been instances like Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia and her son Madhav Rao Scindia simultaneously contesting as candidates of the BJP and the Congress respectively. There have been many more examples of the kind,” he said.
The former BJP member, who was vocal in his criticism of the party and is often referred to as ‘Shotgun’ Sinha, said people should not be surprised when results for the Patna Sahib seat are declared. According to him, leaders of the SP-BSP combine wanted him to contest from Lucknow as his candidature, in their view, was a good fit with the social equations in the area. “But when I said I was committed to fighting from my sitting seat, having proclaimed that the location would be the same even if the situation was different, they suggested Poonam’s name,” Sinha said.
“I asked her and she agreed and hence we had the home minister of Ramayana (the name of Sinhas’ mansion at Mumbai) pitted against the home minister of the country,” added the “Bihari babu” known as much for his stylish on-screen dialogue delivery as his off-screen repartee.
He said his wife stood a good chance from being elected to the Lok Sabha from Lucknow. “We had enormous crowds when she filed her nomination papers in presence of me, my children and Akhilesh and Dimple (SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and his MP wife). She is doing very well. So when the results are out you should not be surprised..for Lucknow too,” Sinha said with a hint of mischief.
He said he had full faith in the voters of Patna Sahib, where he trounced the Congress candidate by a margin of more than 2.5 lakh votes five years ago but is now in the fray as a nominee of the same party. “I have tremendous faith in the voters of Patna Sahib who have always supported me, blessed me and helped me win with record margins. With my full dedication and commitment to the people, I have left everything to them. Unka faisla sar ankhon pe.” While Lucknow votes on May 6, Patna Sahib goes to the polls in the last phase on May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.