Congress leader Jairam Ramesh announced on Tuesday (June 21) that the Opposition parties have unanimously selected Yashwant Sinha as their consensus candidate for the presidential poll.
Sinha, a former bureaucrat and Union Finance Minister, was part of the Trinamool Congress until this morning. He quit the party to run for President.
Having joined in 1960, Sinha had an exhaustive 24-year-long stint in the Indian Administrative Service, holding several posts in Bihar, where he was born (Patna, in 1937), Delhi, and overseas. Among others, he served as a secretary at the Indian Embassy in Bonn (Germany) and then as the Indian consul general in Frankfurt.
Sinha’s political career is as extensive as his administrative one. Joining Janata Dal in 1984, he became All-India General Secretary of the party. He also served as Finance Minister in Chandra Shekhar’s Cabinet (from 1990 to 1991). His loyalties then changed to the BJP where, in 1996, he became the national spokesperson.
Finance minister twice
Two years later, Sinha served as Finance Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Cabinet. In 2002, he took over as External Affairs Minister in the same cabinet.
His tryst with the BJP ended in 2018, when he quit the party. In 2021, he joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
In a tweet on Tuesday, Sinha said his resignation came ahead of the presidential election. “I am grateful to Mamataji for the honour and prestige she bestowed on me in the TMC. Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity. I am sure she approves of the step,” he tweeted.
I am grateful to Mamataji for the honour and prestige she bestowed on me in the TMC. Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity. I am sure she approves of the step.
— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) June 21, 2022
Bouquets and brickbats
As Finance Minister, Sinha had earned praise for his initiatives in lowering bank interest rates, introducing a tax reduction for mortgage interest, and regulating the petroleum industry. He was honoured with the highest French civilian award (Officer of the Legion of Honour) in 2015 for his contribution to international issues.
However, Sinha has also earned criticism for promoting nepotism by nominating his son Jayant Sinha as his ‘successor’ to contest from Hazaribagh.