Continuing his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha
on Thursday said “darr”, or fear, and democracy
were incompatible with each other. Sinha appealed to people to stand-up to fight the atmosphere of fear that seems to have gripped the Indian democracy.
At a function to release a book authored by Congress
leader Manish Tewari, and flanked by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sinha expressed this opinion.
On Wednesday, the PM, without mentioning Sinha and other critics by name, had likened them to Shalya, the Mahabharata character who was a pessimist and would consistently discourage Karna. Last week, Jaitley had said Sinha was a job applicant at 80 [years].
Sinha said people who have read the Mahabharata carefully would know that Shalya, the charioteer of Karna, was the brother of Madri, the mother Nakul and Sahadeva, the youngest of the five Pandavas.
Sinha said Shalya was tricked by Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, to fight on the side of the Kauravas. Sinha didn’t elaborate if he was somehow misled into supporting Modi.
The former finance minister was scheduled to attend the event before the current controversy, after his comments on the poor handling of the economy by the Modi government, erupted. According to Tewari, Kejriwal agreed to attend the event at a short notice.
Taking the Mahabharata analogy a step further, Sinha said the Kauravas were a hundred brothers, but only two of the hundred became “infamous” — Duryodhana and Dushasana.
“Do I need to say anything more?” Sinha said. He, however, didn’t elaborate whether he was referring to the PM, Jaitley or BJP
chief Amit Shah.
Kejriwal lauded Sinha for his “fearlessness” in criticising the Modi government. He said the question isn’t whether the Opposition would be united in fighting the BJP
in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Delhi CM said 2019 would be a fight between the people of India and Modi.
To Jaitley’s remark Sinha said he turns 80 next month (on November 6), and while there could be an age bar to continue in government service, there was no such bar to “fight for freedom”. Sinha said the region he hails from had produced a famous freedom fighter in the first war of independence in 1857, Kunwar Singh who fought the British at the age of 80.
leader, who had written a stinging article on the state of the economy, said democracy
was about discussion, debates and consensus building, even if one had the numbers. Criticising the BJP’s call of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, Sinha said his mentors like Chandra Shekhar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani didn’t indulge in such talk.
He said the company in which he has been photographed, of Kejriwal and Tewari, will send some message to his party leadership. “I am the elder statesman (of the party) so I am past caring,” he said. Sinha said while he hasn’t done anything that should invite disciplinary action, “but if they take action against me, that will be the best day of my life.”
He said others in the BJP
were afraid to speak as they feared losing the party ticket for 2019 polls. Sinha said attempts were made to entangle him in controversies by making his son Jayant Sinha write a rebuttal to his article or spreading misinformation that he was keen to get the job of the BRICS Bank chief. The attempts to divert attention from the issues he raised failed, he said. “Else somebody (the PM) would not have delivered one-and-a-half-hour-long speech (on Wednesday),” he said.
On his son disagreeing with him, Sinha said there were several instances in history of father and son not agreeing. Sinha said he was following his “dharma”, and hoped that someday Jayant realises his “dharma”, but if his son doesn’t then good luck to him.
leader said after 40 months in power the Modi government cannot keep blaming the United Progressive Alliance. He said the government would be held to account against the promises it had made to people. Sinha said he wasn’t a leader who spoke to the people from a huge platform 500 metres from them, but goes to villages to have conversations with them.
Sinha said the BJP
was his party as that of anybody else’s and he has given his blood and sweat for the party. He said the current personality oriented politics
was a passing phase. “Values are more important. I won’t allow personalities to influence my values,” he said. The former finance minister said the PM cherry-picked economic data for his speech on Wednesday. “Read the RBI report. It is in complete contradiction of what the head of government said,” Sinha said.
leader Tewari said the choice of personnel in handing key ministries was of vital importance for any government, and “with all due respect the current FM is not a good choice.”
Kejriwal spoke about the “raid raj” by the income tax department and the Enforcement Directorate, an atmosphere of fear, the shutting down of industries in Delhi’s industrial areas and joblessness.