Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been openly critical of the current party leadership, on Saturday quit the party. “Four years ago, I had quit electoral politics. Now I am taking ‘sanyas’ from party politics,” he said at a meeting in Patna attended by Opposition leaders from the Congress and the RJD, besides rebel BJP leader and Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha.
Sinha said that while he would not engage in any party politics, he would join any movement that works towards “upholding the democratic values of the country”.
Sinha, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleged that democracy was under threat under the present government. A former Union finance minister, Sinha has also criticised the government’s handling of the economy.
Writing in The Indian Express on September 27 last year, in a piece titled “I need to speak up”, Sinha wrote: “I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear”.
Again, on April 17 this year, in an open letter to BJP MPs in The Indian Express titled “Dear friend, speak up”, Sinha reminded them how the BJP “had lost (its) way and “confidence in voters”. “We were delighted with the results of the 2014 elections and expected that the unprecedented victory would mark the beginning of a new and glorious chapter in our country’s history. We backed the prime minister and his team to the hilt, and in full faith. The government has now completed nearly four years in office, presented five budgets and used up all the opportunity available to it to show results. At the end of it, however, we seem to have lost our way and the confidence of the voters”.
Speaking at the Patna function, Sinha said, “I have long been associated with the BJP. But now I am severing all my ties with the BJP. I will not engage in any party politics”.
Sinha also blamed the NDA government for not ensuring a smooth conduct of Parliament.
The meeting, at which Sinha made the announcement, was hosted by Rashtriya Manch, an “apolitical forum” set up by Sinha earlier this year to highlight the alleged “anti-people policies” of the Centre.
Former Bihar Assembly Speaker and senior JD(U) leader Uday Narayan Choudhary and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, were also present at the function. Though TMC chief Mamata Banerjee was also invited, she did not attend the meeting.
Shatrughan Sinha, while attacking the BJP, praised RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav. “Tejashwi is emerging as the face of Bihar… Such maturity at this age! Tejashwi is the worthy son of a worthy father,” he said.