Under fire from BJP for his criticism of the Modi government’s stewardship of the economy, senior leader Yashwant Sinha dared the party to take action against him and said he did not care.
“That will be the best day of my life, because I am not doing anything that calls for action,” Sinha said, adding that BJP was as much “my party as anybody else’s” for which “I have given sweat and blood”.
Sinha was answering a query about BJP initiating disciplinary action against him, after he released a book titled Tidings of the Troubled Times’ by Congress leader Manish Tewari.
Sinha said he was an “elder statesman” and “beyond caring” — a barb to remind that he had been put in the BJP’s ‘margdarshak mandal’ after PM Narendra Modiassumed power.
Getting back at the PM for his remark on Wednesday that ‘Shalya’ were spreading pessimism on the economy, Sinha said the renewed interest in Mahabharata characters brought to mind “Duryodhan and Dushashan”.
“Kauravas were 100 brothers but if I ask you to name a third brother, you cannot. So, out of 100, only two became infamous,” he said.
Shalya was the ruler of the kingdom of Madra and brother of Madri, one of the wives of King Pandu. He was expected to fight on the side of the Pandavas in Kurukshetra. However, he switched sides and became Karna’s charioteer.
Sinha accused government leadership of trying to derail the debate on economy by “entangling” his critique in red herrings like “tiff between father and son” and his being denied the job of Brics Bank chairman.
“But the debate (on economy) has started. Had it not, would somebody have given a one-and-a-quarter hour long speech last evening,” he said, referring to Modi’s presentation on the economy on Wednesday.
The stinging barbs from the BJP veteran — without naming the PM or BJP chief Amit Shah — were made during a brief opening speech and panel discussion featuring Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Tewari.
Sinha said he hailed from the region of Babu Kunwar Singh who joined the 1857 war of independence at the age of 80. “There is no age bar for fighting for democracy,” he said, adding that “fear and democracy don’t go together”.
He also poked fun at Modi by referring to the PM’s favourite schemes and slogans.
He said there were programmes like ‘StandUp India, StartUp India, SitDown India’ but “if we have to stand up for values of democracy, let’s stand up and face it with courage”
Saying he had been trained by leaders like former PMs Chandrashekhar and A B Vajpayee and L K Advani, Sinha added, “Nobody spoke about ‘mukt-this’ and ‘muktthat’ because we are all part of democratic process… If there is no discussion, it will hurt the soul of democracy.”
Sinha said the Modi government could not hide behind “legacy issues” after 40 months, warning that people had already punished UPA and would hold BJP to account. He said leaders like him mingled with people and did not indulge in “one way communication”.