Four-term MP Shatrughan Sinha has been keeping a low profile lately, fueling speculation that he might return to the BJP, the party he had quit in 2019 to join the Congress. In an interview with Giridhar Jha, the Bollywood veteran puts an end to all conjectures. Excerpts…
What are your observations on this elections.
First off, this election should not have been held. A big question looms over how many people will turn out to vote. RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav had expressed fears that voters would head straight to hospitals from polling stations because of the pandemic. Nonetheless, since the election has been announced, we have accepted it. We are going into it with great gusto and preparation, with whatever limitations we have. It is not a question of one party but every party, except those that have the resources, including money power, at their disposal.
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How do you think the battle for Bihar is shaping up?
This election appears to have become messy. So many people and parties are jumping in for whatever reasons. Some are contesting for vendetta, some are hankering after power or trying to make their presence felt. Some are fighting for Bihar’s development in the true sense.
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We are trying to connect with the youth who are also looking up to Mahagathbandhan with a lot of hope, especially the Congress. Our stocks have soared with Rahul Gandhi raising important issues. Be it the pandemic, Chinese aggression, economic crisis, or any other issue of national importance, he has always been at the forefront.
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Is the Mahagathbandhan giving the NDA a tough time?
Our alliance will give a good fight. Some people are apprehensive that Bihar is headed for a khichdi sarkar, a repeat of the hung assembly after the February 2005 elections. I hope and wish that such a situation does not arise.
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The NDA says the Mahagathbandhan has disintegrated with the exit of Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mukesh Sahani.
There are talks about infighting in the Opposition. That happens in the run-up to every election. Leaders switch sides…for greed, power or even to blackmail. The Opposition does not get the space it deserves in media, especially in the so-called “Godi media”. If a junior minister or an ordinary worker of the ruling party gives a statement, it becomes a message to the nation on these TV channels. Most of the leaders have lost credibility and believability because only announcements are made. Where is the Rs 1.5-lakh-crore package announced for Bihar? It has been reduced to Rs 16,000 crore ahead of this election.
Are you skipping the campaign this time?
So long as I am in a party, I am at its service wholeheartedly. Though there are restrictions this time due to coronavirus, I will still be available when required.
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Congress has big leaders from Bihar. Why are their services are not utilised adequately.
There may be some reason behind it. Many people feel the party should have got more than 70 seats to contest in the alliance. They may be disappointed to see the RJD get more than double. They feel we should have bargained for a better deal in seat-sharing.
On Chirag Paswan’s decision to quit the NDA and go solo?
Late Ram Vilas Paswan was a mature politician… so experienced and intelligent that he could foresee election trends. Sadly, he is not with us today. Chirag is young, smart and efficient, but why such a hurry? Some people say he will get sympathy votes. But then, Nitish Kumar may also get sympathy because of the way he is being isolated within his alliance. Laloo Prasad Yadav may also get sympathy because he is not getting bail.