PATNA: Two of BJP’s dissident MPs in Bihar – former movie actor Shatrughan Sinha and former cricketer Kirti Azad – have dropped hints that they may switch sides and contest the Lok Sabha polls next year as candidates of RJD and Congress respectively.
Sinha, an actor-turned-politician who served as a minister during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s NDA government, is a two-term MP from Patna Saheb constituency while Azad, a former Test cricketer, is a three-term MP from Darbhanga in north Bihar. Both leaders have stepped up their attacks on their own party in recent months..
“I will contest from Darbhanga and certainly from a national party,” said Azad on Thursday, “One must admit that Rahul Gandhi is a very effective leader who is raising the issues concerning the common people forcefully. Under his leadership, Congress is regaining lost ground. This must sound like alarm bells for those who are in power,” added Azad, who was suspended from BJP accusing Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of irregularities in Delhi Cricket Association.
Although Bihar’s ruling JD(U) hosted an iftaar party in Patna on Wednesday that was attended by several BJP leaders, Shatrughan Sinha chose to attend the iftaar party hosted by the Opposition RJD. His “seamless bonhomie” with top RJD leaders at the event raised many eyebrows in BJP. Flanked by RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s two sons – Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav – Sinha had animated conversations with them and their sister Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha member.
Bharti also openly extended an invitation to Sinha to join RJD and contest for the Patna Saheb seat on an RJD ticket. Describing him as a “very respected leader,” Tejashwi Yadav, currently the Opposition leader in Bihar Assembly, said: “With the kind of work he (Sinha) has done, anyone would want him in their party. In the end the decision lies with him”.
Sinha, who praised Lalu’s family members highly and said they and their party is “very united and strong,” however, did not comment on his likely next step. Sources close to him said it is a foregone conclusion that he would contest the LS polls next year on an RJD ticket.
Annoyed at Sinha’s actions and words, Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai said on Thursday: “His time is coming near. Just wait for the time when action is taken”. BJP sources said the party is mulling Sinha’s suspension for quite some time and that a decision would be taken shortly.