The ousted outsider seeks a comeback
NEW DELHI: The man who shook up the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a Rajya Sabha seat, Anshuman Mishra, promises to come back to the party after a “cooling off” period, because a man, “who’s wedded to conservative politics, cannot possibly have a career anywhere else”.
The NRI businessman, whose nomination as an Independent candidate, backed by the BJP, from Jharkhand last week, stirred a hornet’s nest, gets unusually candid in a conversation with The Sunday Standard, and says that senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who first raised his voice against his nomination, “was a mere puppet” and blames “larger corporate interests,” among others, behind his Rajya Sabha fiasco.
A man, who claims to have been associated with the party “emotionally for the last 20 years”, says that he’s close to the entire BJP brass, “including Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi,” but singles out Jaitley for mention for the “special ties” that “they have had in the past”.
Asked if anybody from the central BJP asked him to file his nomination as an independent candidate, the 37-year-old Mishra merely says that “he got a diktat (to file a nomination) from the BJP president’s office”.
“All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) leader and Jharkhand Deputy Chief Minister Sudesh Mahto personally spoke to BJP President Nitin Gadkari, and his predecessor Rajnath Singh, to get the go-ahead for my Rajya Sabha seat. Chief Minister (Arjun Munda), Jharkhand BJP President Dineshnand Goswami and 16 MLAs accompanied me, while filing my nomination papers,” he says, by way of an explanation, that he had the backing of the party brass for the election.
But why did the AJSU leader have to call up the BJP brass for Mishra’s ticket if he shared—as claimed by him—an umbilical cord with the party? “The reason is simple; the BJP didn’t have the numbers in the state (it takes 27 MLAs to get a Rajya Sabha nominee elected; the BJP in the state has 18), a reason why Mahto took the initiative and I then had the support of the BJP, AJSU, and the JD(U),” he claims.
The Gorakhpur-born Mishra, who claims to have been initiated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, says that the “corporate interests might have had a hand” in his downfall. “A chit fund company, which is swindling people’s money here, and raising assets abroad, has been against me because I have raised voice against them from various quarters. I have come to know that the company honchos called up the people in the BJP against ticket to me”.
Mishra, who did his Bachelors in Economics and Masters in Law from the USA (University of San Diego), has tried his hands at law and investment banking as careers, before founding his own company (“which provides financial advisory services”) in England.
So, why this sudden interest in India? “I wanted to do something for the country, in terms of improving healthcare, and bringing more investments. The Rajya Sabha seat was meant to expedite the whole idea,” he claims.
Mishra, who claims to be on back-slapping terms with several leading personalities in Hollywood and Bollywood, claims that his own quest for a Rajya Sabha seat “has become a big blockbuster”. “I just got a text message from Saif Ali Khan, whose film Agent Vinod released this week, saying that the Agent Anshuman is the biggest blockbuster this week,” claims Mishra.
For a man, to whom name-dropping comes, some would say, quite naturally, Mishra is, however, unusually peeved with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley. “He’s been my mentor and guide. I respect him the most. I keep his quotable quotes, but now he’s getting intimidated by me!” claims Mishra.
The NRI businessman claims that he has memories to cherish of his association with Jaitley (“we used to hang out together at St James Court in London”). “I ended my association with Lalit Modi due to my friendship with him. But probably because I was inching close to other leaders in the party, he blocked me in the past two-three months,” claims Mishra.
But, then, Mishra is a man of many parts. He claims to know many people in the Congress as well. Prominent of them is senior Congress leader and Karnataka Governor, Hansraj Bharadwaj, whom, he says, has “known for many years”. He knows Salman Khurshid as well, but all “this is because of their common legal background”.
“I have friends in the Congress as well, and they would smile when they read this, but this doesn’t mean that I follow their ideology. I am wedded to conservative politics, and still think that the BJP is the best bet for India,” he says.
Mishra also claims to have helped the BJP by “organising conferences abroad”, helped BJP leaders organise election funds (refuses to name leaders) and “helped India’s cause in the USA, post Pokhran-II”. When asked that there hardly existed any Indian lobbyists in the USA then, he claims that he worked with Akingump, the “official firm that India hired for lobbying, post-Pokran II”. As if to buttress his claims of being a “BJP sympathiser”, his Wikipedia page has pictures of him posing with senior BJP leaders.
The Anshuman Mishra chapter is one that the BJP would like to quickly forget. Mishra, however, threatens to come back for sure, as “not many of those occupying prominent positions today would be alive / active two decades hence”.