Why Shatrughan Sinha is going all guns blazing against Modi before Gujarat polls
The Lok Sabha MP wants to go with a bang, not with a whimper.
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BJP MP from Bihar's Patna Sahib, Shatrughan Sinha, has stepped up his attack on top party colleagues. He launched a frontal assault on none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as finance minister Arun Jaitley and information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani.
Though he did not name any of them, it was one of his hardest knocks against Modi, his ministerial colleagues and government policies.
A sort of battle of nerves is going on between Sinha and the BJP. The question is who blinks first?
Will Sinha resign from the BJP or the party expel him or, at least, suspend him?
Cricketer-turned-politician and BJP MP from Bihar's Darbhanga, Kirti Azad, stands suspended from the BJP for directly attacking Jaitley over the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy. But Sinha has, so far, been spared the penalty card, to use a sports term.
The diatribes of Sinha, an actor-turned-politician, are getting more vicious day by day. Surprisingly, the BJP has not taken any action. The party has not even issued a show-cause notice to him.
Perhaps, this has emboldened Sinha, who was the health and family welfare and shipping minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, to hit the party hard where it hurts the most.
Will Sinha resign from the BJP or the party expel him or, at least, suspend him? Photo: PTI
On November 23, he took part in the book launch of Ali Anwar Ansari, a suspended Rajya Sabha MP of JD(U). Rebel JD(U) MP Sharad Yadav and senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury were the key invitees to the programme.
During the function, held at the Constitution Club in the national capital, Sinha used the "chaiwala" jibe against Modi and did not spare Jaitley and Irani either. He said if a lawyer can speak on financial matters, a TV actress can become the HRD minister and a "chaiwala" can achieve the greatest heights by "selling tea", an actor like him could surely speak on demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Sinha also took a dig at Modi’s monthly radio programme "Mann ki Baat" and said that since the PM had a copyright over it, he would call his speech "Dil ki Baat".
Nothing to lose
"Shotgun", as he is also known, does not have anything to lose.
He was neither made a Union minister nor projected by the BJP as its chief-ministerial candidate for the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, which he had wished to be chosen for.
He has only his Lok Sabha seat to lose, which he will not until and unless he either resigns from the party or defies the party whip in Parliament.
But it is clear that Sinha does not want to lose his Lok Sabha seat.
According to the tenth schedule of Constitution, “a member of a House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified for being a member of the House - (a) if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party; or (b) if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf, without obtaining, in either case, the prior permission of such political party, person or authority and such voting or abstention has not been condoned by such political party, person or authority within fifteen days from the date of such voting or abstention”.
Expulsion from BJP
Even if the BJP expels him, Sinha will remain an MP. But the BJP does not want him to become a free bird and do more harm to the party.
Presently, he is speaking against the party leaders, government and its policies only outside Parliament. But once he is expelled, he will be free to be vocal inside the Lok Sabha also. This will harm the BJP more.
The BJP, on the other hand, would want Sinha to defy the party whip inside Parliament. This will give the ruling party an opportunity to demand his disqualification.
This cat and mouse game between Sinha and the BJP goes on inside and outside Parliament.
With the BJP not in a mood to make him a “martyr” by expelling him yet, Sinha is likely to be more vitriolic in his attacks in the days to come.
PM Modi and Shatrughan Sinha
Sinha’s criticism of Modi is not new. Modi was declared BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate on September 13, 2013. A month before that, Sinha said senior party leader LK Advani was the most suitable candidate for the PM’s post.
Sinha did not yield even after Modi had become the BJP’s PM face on the basis of his popularity. He said if popularity was the criterion, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was the most suitable candidate for the top job. He went to the extent of endorsing Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s name, saying he is “PM material”.
After Modi became the prime minister, the actor-politician sought to embarrass him by praising and hobnobbing with leaders of BJP's rivals such as RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Kumar (when his JD(U) was part of the previous mahagathbandhan government in the state).
After the BJP suffered defeat in Bihar, which Modi had made a prestige battle, Sinha congratulated both Prasad and Kumar for defeating his own party.
Recently, he came in support of former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha who launched a scathing attack on Modi’s flagship economic steps - demonetisation and GST.
He said the former finance minister was a true statesman and that his comments were in the interest of both the party and the nation.
Sinha even requested Modi to appear before the press and answer real questions.
Even if the BJP is mulling any disciplinary action against the actor-politician, it will wait till December 18, the day the results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections would be announced.
Whether it is a suspension, a softer knuckle on Sinha’s knees or a harder one, it can be expected only after December 18, in the midst of the Parliament’s winter session.