Kolkata: Former Union Finance Minister under late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Yashwant Sinha, on Saturday joined the Trinamool Congress weeks ahead of the West Bengal Assembly election. The senior leader had quit BJP in 2018.
His decision to join his former party’s rival TMC is being viewed as a prize catch for an outfit that has seen a steady outflow of both leaders and cadres in the past few months. The senior leader had met Ms Banerjee at her residence before joining the party.
The 83-year-old joined his new party a little after 12 noon at the Trinamool Bhawan in Kolkata in the presence of Derek O Brien, Sudip Bandopadhyay, and Subrata Mukherjee.
“The country is facing an unprecedented situation today. The strength of democracy lies in the strength of the institutions of democracy. All these institutions, including the judiciary, have become weak now,” said Mr Sinha right after joining Trinamool.
While addressing the press conference, he not only raised issues like, including the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the border situation with China but he also sought to draw a comparison between the Narendra Modi government and that of his former boss, PM Vajpayee.
“There is no one to stop the government’s wrongdoing. The BJP during Atal ji’s time believed in consensus but today’s government believes in crushing and conquering. The Akalis, the BJD have left the BJP. Today, who is standing with BJP?” Mr Sinha was quoted saying.
Commenting on the autonomous poll body, he said, “I say it with a lot of responsibility that the Election Commission is no longer a neutral body.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Sinha’s switch has been a fresh breath to the ruling state party as the Trinamool has seen a steady stream of leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee shifting loyalties to the BJP.
To note, the veteran politician is a former IAS officer of the 1960 batch. He joined politics in 1984, starting off with the Janata Party after quitting government service. He later joined the BJP.
Yashwant Sinha first took charge of Finance Minister in November 1990 and stayed in office till June 1991, under Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. His second tenure stretched between December 1998 and July 2002 under PM Vajpayee. From then to May 2004, he hold the office as country’s Foreign Minister.
Mr. Sinha left BJP after its top leaders allegedly sidelined him following the age-bar rule in the middle of the last decade. He soon turned a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later quit the party.
Welcoming him in TMC, Mr Mukherjee said, “We are proud to have Yashwant Sinha joining us.”