KOLKATA: Former Union minister and newly appointed TMC vice president Yashwant Sinha feels the BJP has become "Borrowed Janata Party" which is fighting elections with the hired leaders of other parties and said victory of Trinamool Congress in the West Bengal assembly polls will trigger a change in 2024 general election.
Noting that BJP doesn't have a credible face to counter Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and is dependent on outsiders "Shah-Modi", Sinha said the desperation to win Bengal is driven by the fact that it has slim chances of winning polls in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory Puducherry and a victory in Assam, where it is in power, won't be a big prize.
He despised thinking that he joined TMC for the sake of getting Rajya Sabha membership, saying "it is a very cheap way to look at my decision".
Sinha, who served as finance and external affairs minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet, commented the present-day BJP is controlled by "two-people", who call the shots.
"The BJP has turned itself into a Borrowed Janata Party in Bengal. They are fighting elections with leaders and workers from other parties. They don't have their own leaders to match Mamata Banerjee in Bengal," he told PTI in an interview.
Talking about the Bengal elections, Sinha said the saffron party would bite the dust despite creating an unprecedented hype around the state assembly elections.
"Four states-West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam- and Union Territory of Puducherry are going to the polls this time."
"They are the ruling party in Assam already, so a win there won't be a big prize. Therefore, the only real prize worth getting is Bengal, and that is why the BJP is putting most of its efforts there," he said.
Noting that the Bengal polls results will have national implications, Sinha said its a must to stop the saffron party for the sake of the country.
"The BJP has created an unprecedented hype around the elections. They think they can overcome and overrun all the opposition in the country. But, despite all the noises they are creating, they don't have a ghost of a chance in Bengal."
"The win of TMC in West Bengal assembly polls will ring the changes in 2024 general elections and defeat the BJP. The entire country is looking at this election, it will unite the opposition," Sinha said.
The veteran politician, who started his political career with Janata Party in 80s, feels the BJP lacks a credible face as a challenger to Mamata Banerjee in Bengal.
"The fact that BJP doesn't have a credible face in Bengal to counter Mamata Banerjee itself keeps TMC ahead of the BJP," he said.
Speaking on the insider-outsider debate in Bengal, Sinha said this ought to come up as BJP is seeking votes by projecting Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
"Had the BJP projected any local leader as CM face, this narrative would not have come up in this election, as they could have easily said that they are here to assist the local leadership.
"But the party is projecting Shah-Modi as its faces, and that is why they are termed as outsiders," he said.
When asked about he too being branded as an outsider in Bengal by the BJP leadership, he said, "I am not here to contest election neither I am projected as a face here. I am here to assist Mamata Banerjee and the TMC".
Sinha had joined TMC in mid-March to assist the feisty Bengal leader against the saffron party.
The bureaucrat-turned-politician, a bitter critic of Modi and Shah, had left BJP in 2018.
His son Jayant Sinha remains in the saffron party and is MP from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand.
Speaking about BJP projecting 88-year-old "Metro Man" E Sreedharan in Kerala, and a TMC turncoat Rabindranath Bhattacharya of the same age in Bengal, Sinha said, "it is a complete violation of its own policy that all leaders above 75 years should retire from active politics".
"They made this rule of people of above 75 year of age not being fielded in polls to corner senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and likes of them.
"So once this was done, now the rule is of no use, and it can be broken. They are doing the same," the octogenarian leader said.
When asked why he decided to join the TMC, Sinha said his decision was prompted by the country's situation going from "bad to worse".
"In 2018, I had decided not to indulge in party politics and would only speak on issues related to national importance.
But, then circumstances changed, and things have gone from bad to worse.
"I thought I could make a greater contribution if I join a political party; then I looked around and saw the kind of hype BJP has created around Bengal elections and felt it is only Mamata Banerjee who can stop the BJP," he said.
The 83-year old veteran politician also said that the "tipping point" was the attack on Banerjee in Nandigram that prompted him to join her.
When asked about speculations that he might be the party's nominee for the Rajya Sabha seat, which has fallen vacant after Dinesh Trivedi quit his post and party to switch over to the saffron camp, he said, "it is a very cheap way to look at my decision to join the TMC.
"Let me tell you that I was offered Rajya Sabha seat a few years back by both the TMC and the AAP. I had declined both the offers".