shatrughan sinha

Days after the Bharatiya Janata Party rebel Shatrughan Sinha said that he decided to quit the party, on Sunday, March 31, said that he decided to go with the Congress as it was a national party in the "true sense" and family friend Lalu Prasad also advised him to do so. Earlier, Sinha felt that the Congress party is the political future of India.

The actor-turned-politician said leaders such as Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal, among others, wanted him to join their respective parties, but he had made it clear that whatever be the situation, the constituency he would be contesting in the Lok Sabha elections would be Patna Sahib. Sinha had won the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

This development comes a few days after BJP dropped him from the Patna Sahib seat. Sinha, who has been criticising the Modi government for long, said it was "painful" for him to leave the BJP with which he has had such a long association, but was disturbed at the treatment meted out by the party to stalwarts such as LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha. The BJP has not fielded party veterans Advani and Joshi in the Lok Sabha polls.

In an exclusive interview to news agency PTI, Sinha said he had won from Patna Sahib in 2014 on his own merit, without support from the party and feels that this time he could break his "previous records" in terms of victory. He slammed the BJP's leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah saying earlier there was "lokshahi" (democracy) and now there is "tanashahi" (dictatorship) in the party.

"There used to be collective decision during Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji's time. There was democracy in the true sense. But now, there is the case of one-man show and two-man army," said the 73-year-old leader, who is in Muscat where he is being honoured as a cinematic legend.

Sinha said that he wants to join Congress as there were several reasons such as it is the grand old party which has had great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, and those of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The party also has a great contribution to the country's freedom movement, the sitting MP from Patna Sahib said, adding another reason was that it is a national party in the "true sense".

"Our family friend (RJD chief) Lalu Prasad also suggested 'you go there (to the Congress). We are there with you and will be together politically also'. It was done with his (Lalu Prasad's) permission and in agreement with him," said Sinha, who won the Patna Sahib seat back to back in 2009 and 2014 parliamentary polls.

He said an important factor is that the Patna Sahib seat has gone to the Congress quota in the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) seat sharing and he had said that whatever be the situation, the constituency for him fighting the polls would be the same.

"Many people like (TMC chief) Mamata Banerjee, (SP president) Akhilesh Yadav, and (Delhi Chief Minister) Arvind Kejriwal among others, wanted me to be in their party. But I had to come to this place because I had said that whatever be the situation, the location will be the same," Sinha told the news agency, adding that the Congress was a great party.

On claims by BJP leaders that he got votes in Patna due to the party, the former Union minister said, "I would like to say that in the last election it was not just Modi 'leher' (wave) but Modi 'qahar' (destruction) on certain seats like we saw Shahnawaz Hussain losing from Bhagalpur. Arun Jaitley had a humiliating defeat."

(Inputs from agencies)