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Yashwant Sinha compares Modi-Shah to Duryodhan & Dusshasan, urges Indians to ‘fight fear’

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 5 October 2017, 23:21 IST
(Right: Shekhar Yadav/India Today Group/Getty Images Left- PTI)

Not only politics and economics, veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha knows his Mahabharata as well. Speaking at a book launch on Thursday, he virtually compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to Duryodhan and Dusshasan. He also stated that there is an atmosphere of fear in the country and that fear and democracy cannot go together.

“There’s a need to fight this fear,” he said.

This came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared “pessimistic” critics of his handling of the economy to Shalya from Mahabharata.

Responding to the PM’s comment, which appeared to be aimed at Sinha among others, the former finance minister pointed out how Shalya was tricked into supporting Kauravas.

Referring to Modi's Shalya's comments, Sinha said how Mahabharata has been the flavour of the last few days and characters from the epic have suddenly appeared.

“Some people are talking about Shalya, I don't know how many of you know of Shalya. While he was on his way, Duryodhan arranged for him to be entertained so well that without realising who was responsible for the entertainment and thinking that the Pandavas were behind the hospitality, he agreed to fight for the host,” said Sinha.

Taking veiled digs at Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, Sinha pointed that though there were other large number of interesting characters in Mahabharata but only two became very infamous – Duryodhan and Dusshashan.

“Though the Kauravas were 100 brothers, if I ask you to name the third brother, you would not be able to and even I won't be unless I refer to Mahabharata. So a situation arose where the hundred brothers who constituted the Kaurava clan, out of them only two became infamous. Do I need to say anything more,” he said with a smile. This was greeted by a loud applause from the jam packed auditorium.

Sinha was speaking at the launch of Congress leader Manish Tewari’s book.

Stressing on the need to have discussion and debate with political opponents, Sinha added that earlier nobody said “Mukt this, Mukt that” because we are all part of a democratic process”. “We know democracy means discussion, debate and evolution of consensus. If discussions and debates don't take place, consensus will not take place. The soul of democracy according to me is consensus. Even if you have numbers, you have to try and reach out to people,” he said while adding that this is the reason he came for Tewari's book launch.

Among those who shared the stage with Sinha included Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. And pointing to sharing of stage with Tewari and Kejriwal, Sinha said how some recent events have given a different connotation to this function and “I know the company in which I have been photographed will send some message. Though, I must also say that I don't really care. I am past that.”

Continuing his attack on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had called Sinha a “job applicant at 80”, the former Union finance minister narrated the story of Babu Kunwar Singh who also came from his home state Bihar and participated in the 1857 revolt.

“I come from a part of the country which produced a very famous character whose name was Babu Kunwar Singh who became a major freedom fighter in 1857. When he joined that war, he was 80 years-old. There may be an age to join government service but there is no age for joining in the fight for freedom,” he said.

The former finance minister informed the audience that fear and democracy do not go together and that Indians must rise to ensure that our democratic values remain intact. He said, “There are so many programmes like Make in India, Start Up India and sit down India etc. My appeal to all citizens is to stand up for the values of our democracy.”

When asked whether sharing a stage with Opposition leaders like Kejriwal and Tewari would not lead to any disciplinary action, Sinha replied saying, “If my party takes any action against me it would be the happiest day of my life.” He further went on to add that there are many in the BJP who are not happy with how the party is being run and added that they are not reacting out of fear. “People are scared that if they speak up, they won't get tickets to contest the next elections,” he said while stressing that this fear is in every political party.

On the issue of the BJP top leadership trying to create a divide between him and his son, Jayant Sinha, who is a minister in the Modi government, Sinha jokingly said that there is no Agra Fort where I can be locked up. He was referring to Aurangzeb who imprisoned his father Shah Jahan in Agra Fort after taking over the Mughal Sultanate.

Jayant had written a piece ridiculing his father's column wherein the latter had criticised the economic policies of the government. Responding to the comment that Sinha's position must have created a divide in the family, he maintained that it was just a ploy to divert the attention from the issues he had raised.

“They wanted to make it ‘father vs son’ debate so that the real issue gets diverted but that didn't work,” he said while adding that then the government started the issue of Sinha being unhappy for not being given the job as the president of the BRICS Bank.

“I was the Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of this country. It is ridiculous to say I was chasing a job at the BRICS Bank: Why would I want a tutpoonjia (insignificant) post like that? Yes, if it was about IMF or World Bank president, it would have made sense. But, it was just a way to divert attention,” he said.

Taking digs at Modi, he said, if the issue he had raised were not so serious, “would somebody have not given a one and half hour long speech yesterday?"

First published: 5 October 2017, 23:20 IST