KOLKATA: Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) ahead of the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections, on Saturday claimed that Mamata Banerjee had offered herself to be taken as hostage in exchange for passengers of Indian Airlines Flight 814, commonly known as IC 814, which was taken to Afghanistan's Kandahar by Pakistan-backed hijackers in 1999.
Addressing a press conference after joining the TMC, Sinha said, "Mamata Banerjee wanted to offer herself as a hostage in exchange for passengers of the hijacked plane in 'Kandahar incident' for the country."
India had to release three terrorists, including Masood Azhar to ensure the hostages' release. Sinha was the union finance minister at the time under the leadership of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The 83-year-old further said that the recent attack on Banerjee in Nandigram served as the "tipping point" behind his decision to join the TMC. "The tipping point was the attack on Mamata ji in Nandigram. It was the moment of decision to join TMC and support Mamata ji," said Sinha.
Sinha further lashed out at the BJP-led central government and said the latter believes in "crushing and conquering" ideas. "BJP during Atal Ji's time believed in consensus but today's government believes in crushing and conquering ideas. Akalis, BJD have left the BJP. Today, who is standing with BJP?" asked Sinha.
In September 2020, Akali Dal had snapped its ties with BJP as they did not support the recently enacted farm laws. The resignation of the former cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal created a furore among the ties.
West Bengal will witness eight-phased assembly polls beginning March 27. The counting will take place on May 2.