Yashwant Sinha, former BJP leader who was the finance minister under the Vajpayee government, on Saturday (March 13) joined Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
“The tipping point was the attack on Mamata ji in Nandigram. It was the moment of decision to join TMC and support Mamata ji,” Sinha said, ANI reported.
Mamata Banerjee was injured while campaigning for the West Bengal Assembly polls in Nandigram. The Trinamool Congress submitted a petition to the Election Commission, alleging that the attack on the CM was planned through social media comments by BJP leaders, the removal of the director-general of the state police, and the “planting of eyewitnesses”. Mamata was discharged from Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital on Friday evening.
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“The BJP during Atal ji’s time believed in consensus, but today’s government believes in crushing and conquering. The Akalis, BJD have left the BJP. Today, who is standing with BJP?” said Sinha at TMC Bhawan in Kolkata.
“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 Sinha.
He also raised the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the border situation with China. “There is no one to stop the government’s wrongdoing. Atal ji believed in consensus, this government believes in coercing. Atal ji believed in co-opting, this government believes in conquering. Atal ji built a national alliance. He did not want to weaken allies and take their space,” NDTV quoted Sinha as saying.
He also cast doubts on the poll body. “I say it with a lot of responsibility that the Election Commission is no longer a neutral body.”
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The Trinamool has seen a migration of its leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee to the BJP, a party seen as the main challenger to the Mamata government. The entry of Sinha, who quit the BJP in 2018, is symbolic of TMC’s aggressive counter-attack on the BJP barely a fortnight before the first phase of eight-phase polling beginning March 27 and ending on April 29.
Sinha joined the IAS in 1960 and spent over 24 years holding important posts during his service tenure. He quit IAS in 1984 and was a member of the then Janata Party. He rose to become BJP’s spokesperson in 1996 and became Finance Minister in 2002 .
Sinha is credited with several major reform measures that put the economy on the growth path. Among them are lowering of real interest rates, introducing tax deduction for mortgage interest, freeing up the telecommunications sector, helping fund theNational Highways Authority and deregulating the petroleum industry.
He has written an account of his years as Finance Minister titled ‘Confessions of a Swadeshi Reformer.’