Senior BJP leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who has been trenchant in his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, on Saturday quit the party, alleging that there was a “threat” to democracy under the present dispensation.
“I have had a long association with the BJP. Today I am severing my ties with the BJP,” the 80-year-old announced at a meeting in Patna attended by opposition leaders from the Congress and the RJD besides dissident BJP leader and Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha. The function was also attended by leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejaswi Prasad Yadav.
Sinha also made it clear that he would not join any other political party, saying he was taking ‘sanyas’ (retirement) from party politics and will now work for “saving democracy in the country”. “I have long been with BJP but I am announcing today to severe all my ties with BJP….. I will not now be part of any party politics.”
However, it was the same Sinha who had said that he had no intention of quitting the BJP, which can throw him out if it so wants.
Sinha, who held finance finance and external affairs portfolios in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, has had a turbulent relationship with the current BJP leadership including party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the party came to power in 2014. He has been a vocal critic of the current regime and has spoken out in open on various issues, including demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax or government’s handling of the economy.
Yashwant Sinha on state of 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”.
READ | I need to speak up now
Yashwant Sinha on SC judges ‘revolt’
After the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court had come out publicly against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in January, the senior BJP leader had urged then colleagues and ministers to “get rid of their fear” and “speak up for democracy”.
Sinha had referred to the comments of the four judges to claim that the prevailing atmosphere was like the Emergency in 1975-77 and voiced concern over short parliamentary sessions.
“If four senior-most Supreme Court judges say democracy is under threat, we have to take their words very seriously,” he had said. “Every citizen who feels for democracy should speak up. I will ask party (BJP) leaders and senior cabinet ministers to speak up. I will appeal to them to get rid of their fears and speak up,” he added.
Yashwant Sinha on GST, demonetisation
In November 2017, Sinha had criticised Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the “ad hoc” implementation of GST, saying Jaitley who had been elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat is a “burden” on the people of the state. “I want to tell you that I do not consider the finance minister a Gujarati,” Sinha had said. He had also criticised the decision of demonetisation. “700 years ago a shehanshah did demonetisation. His name was Mohammed-bin-Tuglaq,” said Sinha.
Yashwant Sinha on Kashmir
In October 2017, Sinha had attacked the Modi government on the Kashmir imbroglio, insisting “India has lost people of the valley emotionally”. In an interview to ‘The Wire’ recorded, the former union minister said, “I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and Kashmir. That is something which bothers me the most… We have lost the people emotionally… You just have to visit the valley to realise that they have lost faith in us.”
Yashwant Sinha on Union Budget
Sinha, in Febraury this year, had lashed out at the Union Budget 2018-19 and had termed it asn an “exercise done without application of mind”. “This time, we have just three-and-a-half days for discussion on the president’s address, rail budget and general budget,” Sinha had said.
Yashwant Sinha on governance
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”.
READ | Dear friend, speak up
(With PTI inputs)