Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha waited to be at least suspended from the party, sadly for them, neither Amit Shah nor Modi obliged.
For four years Yashwant Sinha did his best to get ousted from the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was convinced that the ‘intolerant’ Narendra Modi-Amit Shah leadership would note his vicious barbs and sack him. To his shock and dismay, the Prime Minister, as well as the party chief, chose to ignore his rant and went about their tasks, oblivious to his existence. His hope of claiming victimhood and political martyrdom shattered, Yashwant Sinha dolefully quit the party and “active politics”. The decision brings no material difference to either the BJP or Sinha. Whatever he was doing in these four years from within the party, he can continue to do from the outside.
Yashwant Sinha’s desperation has its roots in the days when Modi emerged as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in mid-to-late 2013. He was not seen as an enthusiastic supporter of the choice. He was not alone, but the difference was that several others who shared his belief later accepted the fait accompli when they realized that the party had a bright chance of winning the Lok Sabha election under Modi’s leadership. As the election campaign picked up and commentators began noting a wave in Modi’s favor, the fence-sitters quickly jumped over to Modi’s side. Not Yashwant Sinha, and he was to pay a price. Although the party later decided that those aged 75 and more would not find a place in the Union Ministry, Sinha could still have been accommodated in some Government position — such as in Niti Aayog or the Finance Commission, or even the BRICS Bank. But his unchanged critical position damaged those prospects.
While Yashwant Sinha was on his insult-delivering spree, the BJP leadership continued to repose faith in his son Jayant Sinha.
Shut off, Yashwant Sinha began firing one missile after another at the Government, the Prime Minister, and the party. When it came clear that he would not find a place in the Cabinet, he blasted the decision saying that the BJP had declared all those above 75 years of age as “brain dead”. He condemned the implementation of Goods and Services Tax; took pot-shots at the Prime Minister’s remark that the latter had seen poverty from close quarters, claiming that the Finance Minister was working to ensure that other Indians too see poverty from similarly close proximity; said the BJP’s Assembly election campaign in Gujarat had seen a “new low”; ridiculed the Government’s Pakistan policy; alleged dissenting voices were being stifled and asked party leaders to “speak up”; and, eventually dared the BJP leadership to sack him, taunting that it would not do so because it was “scared” of the consequences. Now that he has quit, we are waiting with bated breath for that earth-shattering consequence.
Interestingly, while Yashwant Sinha was on his insult-delivering spree, the BJP leadership and the Prime Minister continued to repose faith in his son Jayant Sinha, who had been inducted as Minister of State. He was first in the Finance Ministry and then shifted to Civil Aviation — with both being high-profile and critical ministries going by the Government’s priorities. In the process, on more than one occasion the junior Sinha had the unenviable task of countering his father’s diatribes against the Modi regime.
It appears unlikely that Shatrughan Sinha will get a BJP ticket in 2019 unless he dramatically reforms.
Meanwhile, another Sinha was flexing his muscles — or whatever is left of that. Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha had won from his Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar on the strength of Modi’s charisma. The ‘shotgun’ would like to believe that his victory was a result of his own popularity, but the fact is that he would have sunk without the Modi wave; left alone, he would have had to counter the strength of both the Janata Dal (United) and Lalu Prasad’s party, a challenge that he was not equipped to handle on his own. After the win, he was expecting a ministerial berth, given that he had served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Government.
But the BJP had other ideas, especially since it had not forgotten Sinha’s strident opposition to Modi in the run-up to the 2014 poll. From the day he was left out, Shatrughan Sinha has been consistently critical of Prime Minister Modi and party president Amit Shah. How could he even imagine that after taking on both these BJP stalwarts, he would have even an outside chance! Like Yashwant Sinha, this Sinha too waited to be at least suspended from the party, if not expelled. Sadly for him, neither Amit Shah nor Modi has so far obliged. Maybe they will, or maybe they will ignore him as contemptuously as they ignored his more illustrious namesake. Since it appears unlikely that he will get a BJP ticket in 2019 unless he dramatically reforms, the actor-politician who thinks of himself more highly than an objective assessment would conclude, may have to seek refuge in a convict’s (Lalu Prasad) benevolence.
This is how the mighty, or those who think they are mighty, fall.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.