The 1980s was an important decade for India. An incumbent Prime Minister was assassinated, pogroms against the Sikhs were unleashed, the military was involved in an internal conflict in Sri Lanka, Bofors scandal came to light, political instability and Mandal politics dominated in the later part of the decade among others.
It was also in the mid-80s that a Joint Secretary to the Government of India resigned from service. The concerned officer resigned from service and subsequently joined the Janata Party before getting elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1988 on a Janata Dal ticket. In 1990, he became the country’s Finance Minister in the Government headed by Chandra Shekhar. It was also in mid-80s that a renowned Magsaysay-award winning journalist became the editor of The Times of India (July 1986), a job that was once described by journalist (and a former editor of The Times of India) as the second-most important job in the country after that of the Prime Minister. The concerned journalist also became a Union Cabinet Minister in 1998 when the BJP formed the Government.
Again, it was in mid-80s that a humble Pracharak of the RSS entered the BJP that had only 2 Lok Sabha MPs then. Even L K Advani was then serving his 3rd term in the Rajya Sabha. More than a decade later, in 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister while the former IAS officer once again became the country’s Finance Minister (primarily helped by Jaswant Singh and Pramod Mahajan losing the Lok Sabha election from their respective constituencies of Chittorgarh and Mumbai North East). 2 years later in 2000 the journalist-turned-politician also became a Minister in the Council of Ministers headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. All this while, the humble pracharak-cum-kaaryakarta had been handling the organizational work of the BJP. In 1998, he was made the General Secretary (Organization) of the BJP.
Yashwant Sinha first became the Finance Minister of India in 1990. In the 80s, some of the leaders who headed the finance ministry, such as R Venkataraman and V P Singh, went on to become President and Prime Minister respectively. In fact, R Venkataraman was the President of India when Sinha became the finance minister for the first time in the Government headed by Chandra Shekhar. Chandra Shekhar’s predecessor was V P Singh. Even Pranab Mukherjee who was the Finance Minister from January 1982 to December 1984 later went on to become the President of India. Sinha’s successor, Dr. Manmohan Singh served as the Prime Minister of India from 2004-2014.
All during this time, Yashwant Sinha has been in positions of political power. Even when he lost the Lok Sabha election in 2004 from Hazaribagh, he was elected to Rajya Sabha later that year. He is as much a man of the ecosystem as Arun Shourie or Dr. Manmohan Singh. There is hardly any major difference between the likes of Yashwant Sinha or Arun Shourie on one hand and Dr Singh on the other. The only difference, perhaps, is that while Dr Manmohan Singh has been very loyal to the Congress party and the Gandhi family, Shourie and Sinha, who do not have any traction with the workers of either the RSS or the BJP, who can hardly do well in an election on their own, have not only badmouthed the party, which they used to build their political careers but also been extremely critical of the Prime Minister merely because he did not include them in his cabinet.
Perhaps, as a simple worker of first the RSS and then the BJP in the 1980s and 1990s, Prime Minister is not oblivious of the political character and utility of Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and the joker in the pack Shatrughan Sinha. The former actor who was also a Union Minister in the Vajpayee Government along with Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie has been deliberately and now it appears, rightfully, kept out of his Council of Ministers by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister, in order to pacify Yashwant Sinha had included his son Jayant Sinha in the Council of Ministers, but, perhaps it was not seen as enough by the former finance minister.
It is their non-inclusion in the Council of Ministers by Prime Minister Modi that is the putative reason for the trio to feel slighted. A few weeks back, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had described Yashwant Sinha as a “job applicant at 80” in response to Sinha’s regular barbs at him. All the statements made by Yashwant Sinha have to be seen in this context.
Whether it is the issue of demonetization, Kashmir or the recent press conference by the 4 Supreme Court Judges against the Chief Justice of India, Yashwant Sinha has chosen to publicly decry his party and its leadership without any substantive basis.
The press conference of the 4 senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court of India has once again provided an issue to the disgruntled Yashwant Sinha. Sinha was quoted by The Times of India as saying, “Every citizen who feels for democracy should speak up. I will ask party (BJP) leaders and senior cabinet ministers to speak up. I will appeal to them to get rid of their fears and speak up”. It is fairly obvious that Yashwant Sinha not only made this statement without any basis to back his claim but also that he did not read the letter written by the four senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court. The complaint of the Judges primary relates to the problems in the administration of the Supreme Court and in the allocation of cases to certain benches by the Chief Justice of India. If anything, then Yashwant Sinha must “speak up” against the manner in which politicians such as D Raja of CPI and Congress President Rahul Gandhi tried to politically milk a serious issue affecting the apex institution of the judiciary brought out by the learned Judges of the Supreme Court.
Yashwant Sinha further said that the present situation is similar to the one in 1975 when Emergency was imposed by the then Government. The very fact that no action has been taken by the BJP or Prime Minister against the likes of Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha contradicts the allegations made by these leaders. Perhaps, it is also time for him to “speak up” about the role of the administration and its excesses during the emergency of which he was very much a part in carrying out the unjustifiable acts. The politicians in India ought to learn a thing or two from Australian cricketers. It is the sense of retiring from the scene at the right time. Unfortunately, that day does not seem to be coming anytime soon.
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