Yashwant Sinha, former Union Finance Minister under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today joined the Trinamool Congress weeks ahead of the West Bengal Assembly election. The 83-year-old had quit his earlier party, the BJP, in 2018. His joining Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s side is likely to be viewed as a prize catch for an outfit that has seen a steady outflow of both leaders and cadres in the past few months.
Mr Sinha joined his new party a little after 12 noon at the Trinamool Bhawan in Kolkata where while speaking to the press, he said, “The country is facing an unprecedented situation today. The strength of democracy lies in the strength of the institutions of democracy. All these institutions, including the judiciary, have become weak now,” said Mr Sinha right after joining Trinamool.
He raised several issues today at the press meet, including the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the border situation with China. He also sought to draw a comparison between the Narendra Modi government and that of his former boss, PM Vajpayee.
“There is no one to stop the government’s wrongdoing. The BJP during Atal ji‘s time believed in consensus but today’s government believes in crushing and conquering. The Akalis, the BJD have left the BJP. Today, who is standing with BJP?” Mr Sinha said.
Coming to the elections, he cast doubts on the poll body, too: “I say it with a lot of responsibility that the Election Commission is no longer a neutral body.”
In the run up to the Bengal polls, the Trinamool has seen a steady stream of leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee shifting loyalties to the BJP, a party keen on replacing Ms Banerjee’s regime. Mr Sinha’s entry into the party at this juncture does not help the party much and at best can be seen as a symbolic gesture .
Mr Sinha, a former IAS officer of the 1960 batch, joined politics in 1984, starting off with the Janata Party after quitting government service. He later joined the BJP and His second tenure stretched between December 1998 and July 2002 under PM Vajpayee. From then to May 2004, he was India’s Foreign Minister.
His son Jayant Sinha remains a BJP member and Parliamentarian from Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). Although a Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Finance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is first term (2014-19), he was given no ministerial responsibilities following re-election in 2019.
With a generational change overtaking the BJP in the middle of the last decade, Mr Sinha was perceived to have been sidelined. He soon turned a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later quit the party.