Sha­trughan Sinha to be pit­ted against Modi?

Ac­tor shared dais with former BJP leader Yash­want Sinha and Sa­ma­jwadi Party chief Akhilesh Ya­dav where he called for Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s ouster

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE - NAMITA BA­J­PAI

THE pres­ence of Ac­tor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sha­trughan Sinha and former BJP leader Yash­want Sinha on Thurs­day at an event to mark the birth an­niver­sary of free­dom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan that was or­gan­ised at the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) head­quar­ters in Luc­know, has set off spec­u­la­tion that the ac­tor may con­test the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tions against Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on an SP ticket.

Af­ter the event, SP chief Akhilesh Ya­dav held a closed door meet­ing with Sha­trughan as well as Yash­want Sinha. SP lead­ers, who did not want to be named, said they had drawn Ya­dav’s at­ten­tion to Sinha. They added that the de­ci­sion is still pend­ing but de­lib­er­a­tions are on­go­ing.

Lately, the ac­tor has been voic­ing his dis­plea­sure against the BJP govern­ment’s pub­licly. How­ever, he has not faced any ac­tion from the party so far.

There is a feel­ing within the party that Sha­trughan may find a large fol­low­ing among the Kayasths in Varanasi, which is ad­ja­cent to his home state Bi­har, said above-men­tioned sources.

At the event, Sha­trughan and Yash­want launched a full-scale at­tack against the Modi-led Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance.

Speaking about the Rafale deal, Sha­trughan ex­horted the Cen­tre to clar­ify its stand on the deal.

“Why was Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) de­nied a role in the deal de­spite hav­ing expertise in mak­ing planes?” he asked, raising ques­tions on the cre­den­tials of Anil Am­bani’s Re­liance De­fence say­ing it was in­cluded in the deal “with­out even hav­ing man­u­fac­tured the com­po­nents of a mo­tor­cy­cle so far”.

Sha­trughan also touched on the is­sue of the de­mon­eti­sa­tion, claim­ing it was not a de­ci­sion taken by the BJP as a party. “I am not against the party. I am against those peo­ple who are au­to­cratic. De­mon­eti­sa­tion was not the de­ci­sion of the BJP. De­mon­eti­sa­tion and the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) have ru­ined the poor,” he said.

“Peo­ple of­ten ask me why I speak against the BJP de­spite be­ing its mem­ber. I tell them that I speak the truth. If speaking the truth is re­bel­lion, then I am in­deed a rebel,” he added.

Yash­want Sinha de­scribed the sce­nario in the coun­try as “worse than the days of the emer­gency”. He called upon the anti-BJP par­ties to stitch up a strong and for­mi­da­ble ‘ma­ha­gath­band­han’ (grand al­liance) to en­sure the saf­fron party’s ouster from the Cen­tre in 2019.

“If peo­ple do not wake up even now, it will be too late,” he said.

Peo­ple of­ten ask me why I speak against the BJP de­spite be­ing its mem­ber. I tell them that I speak the truth. If speaking the truth is re­bel­lion, then I am in­deed a rebel.

I am not against the party (BJP). I am against those peo­ple who are au­to­cratic. De­mon­eti­sa­tion was not a de­ci­sion of the BJP. De­mon­eti­sa­tion and the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) have ru­ined the poor.

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