Opposition unity must be on basis of equality of all parties: Yashwant Sinha

The upcoming Lok Sabha election will not be a cakewalk for the BJP as it is being perceived by the ruling dispensation and its allies.

Published: 26th April 2022 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2022 07:48 AM   |  A+A-

Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha (File | PTI)

Express News Service

His most prominent years may have been spent as a member of the Vajpayee cabinet (1998-2004), where he reprised his 1990 role as Finance Minister before going on to handle the External Affairs Ministry. But ever since he quit the BJP in 2018, the former bureaucrat has been a staunch critic of the saffron party. After a brief break from formal politics, Yashwant Sinha joined the Trinamool Congress in 2021 and is now one of the key Opposition strategists as the country moves towards a tumultuous political phase in the run-up to 2024. In an interview with Rajesh Kumar Thakur, he answers questions on Opposition politics, secularism, and India’s foreign relations. Excerpts:

The general perception is that the Modi dispensation is too strong to be unseated in 2024. Do you agree? 

The upcoming Lok Sabha election will not be a cakewalk for the BJP as it is being perceived by the ruling dispensation and its allies. The country is boiling in anger against inflation, unemployment, divisive politics, hatred and socio-political acrimony. But yes, to defeat the BJP, coordinated efforts are required. 

The TMC chief, Mamata Banerjee, wants to lead the Opposition by claiming the centrality the Congress once claimed on the non-BJP side. But the Congress is adamant about not ceding the leadership position. How then can the Opposition manage a coordinated effort?

The Opposition does not lack unity per se. It’s just that individual parties have different views and priorities. That’s natural. I think all parties in the Opposition can and should come together with one common agenda on which there’s consensus: defeating the BJP in 2024. And unity in the Opposition needs to be on the basis of equality of all parties. I think Mamata Banerjee is competent enough to lead the Opposition. She carries the image of a strong secular leader. 

One notable event here relates to poll strategist Prashant Kishor -- he is said to be joining the Congress. Very recently, till the Goa election, he has also worked for your party. What would you have to say on him? 

I would not like to say anything on him. I have a very good personal relation with him but he seems to be a man of high political ambitions. He is just a political consultant but wants to be a political executive. 

Do you think India is going in the right direction under the Modi government? 

India is being misled by the misplaced trust of people in the BJP government, even when it has embarked on the ‘weaponisation’ of religion. The recent series of incidents will have very many side-effects, and ultimately aggravate unemployment in an already inflationary scenario, which may result in total systemic chaos. 

How about foreign relations? What do you make of India’s stand on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine? 

Kuchh sahi aur kuchh galat (a little right and a little wrong). There is no doubt that Russia has always been an all-weather friend of India. A good friend’s duty is to point out the faults of his friend. India should be more proactive in playing the role of a neutral arbitrator — we must aspire to that global role if we really want to become ‘Vishwaguru’. But sorry to say, till now, India has failed in taking a global lead.  

How do you see it impacting Sino-Indo relations? 

There would be no immediate impact. China too has come out openly in support of Russia out of its domestic concerns and foreign policy. If India continues supporting Russia silently, as it is doing now, then the world will get the impression that India has sided with the dictatorship of Russia along with another ‘dictator’ country like China. 

What impact do you foresee on the world as well as on Indian economy due to the Ukraine war? 

If this prolongs further, there will be disastrous and cascading impacts on the global as well as Indian economies. The price of petroleum crude will skyrocket and India will have to face its direct impact in terms of inflationary pressures. 

The economies Sri Lanka and Pakistan, have almost collapsed. Is it a wake-up call for India? 

Faulty policies have resulted in the massive crises in both Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Compared to them, India’s economy is not in such a bad condition. We have more than $600 billion in foreign reserves. The Indian economy is nowhere near being in the pink of health though — the present government’s policies have devastated it.

Do you think the change of guard in Pakistan holds out any chance of bilateral relations improving? 

As of now, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Pakistan’s and India’s foreign policies are more or less linked with domestic politics. So, Pakistan can’t be expected to work on a positive note.


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  • Muraleedharan

    It is better to join with the founder of Emergency in India
    28 days ago reply
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