Shatrughan Sinha in favour of Mamata as PM

Sinha quit BJP four years ago and remained with Congress for a brief period before joining the TMC

Patna, Aug 14 (PTI) Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha on Monday said he would love to see West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the next Prime Minister of the country.

Sinha, who is a member of the Trinamool Congress, headed by Banerjee, made the statement in response to a query as to how he saw Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a prospective Prime Ministerial candidate.

“It would be very good for the country that at a time when we also have a woman as the President, we had a woman as the Prime Minister too. A firebrand leader like Mamata Banerjee, who has a mass base, would fit the bill,” he told PTI here in an interview.

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Sinha, who represents Asansol in the Lok Sabha, however, hastened to add “who would be the Prime Minister is a decision that would be taken at an appropriate time. My point is to underscore that we, in INDIA, have no dearth of talent”.

“We have youth icon Rahul Gandhi, in whom the nation sees its future. We have the modern day Chanakya – Sharad Pawar. And of course, we have firebrand mass leader Mamata Banerjee. In contrast, the BJP-led NDA has none except Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” asserted the actor-turned-politician.

Sinha, who quit the BJP four years ago and remained with the Congress for a brief period before joining the TMC, also asserted, “It does not behove the Prime Minister to mock our alliance with the use of terms like ‘ghamandia’ (proud)”.

“He speaks of issues like corruption and nepotism to criticize the opposition coalition. As a former NDA insider, I wager that the BJP and its allies are second to none when it comes to nepotism. And their stand on corruption got exposed when they allied with those accused of corruption in Maharashtra by the PM,” said Sinha.

“As I have said, we have no dearth of talent. The BJP should worry for itself. The PM keeps saying he is a ‘fakir’ (mendicant) who may pick up his ‘jhola’ (humble belongings) and leave. If he indeed does so, how will the BJP ensure that the show goes on?” the former BJP leader queried sarcastically.

On the flying kiss controversy, Sinha said he was surprised at the allegation levelled against Rahul Gandhi by Union minister Smriti Irani “who respects me a lot as a senior in the acting profession, though unlike me, she never made it to films and remained confined to TV serials”.

“I too was present in the House at the time. No such gesture was made. I wonder why Irani, who has matured over the years, made such an allegation,” said the superstar of yesteryears, adding, with a hint of mischief, the Urdu couplet “kuchh tho majbooriyan rahi hongi, yunhi koi bewafa nahin hota (there must have been some pressing compulsions, one does not become unfaithful just like that)”.

Sinha also criticised the Prime Minister over his speech in Parliament, given in reply to the no-confidence motion.

Reciting the couplet “bahut der kar di meherbaan aate aate”, to underscore it was too little and too late, Sinha remarked “it appeared the PM was engaged in a contest with his Home Minister (Amit Shah) who spoke for two hours. So the PM gave a speech that was even longer. It was a sure cure for insomnia”.

Often known by the nickname ‘Shotgun’, Sinha, known for his gift of the gab, recited another verse that he frequently uses to deride the Narendra Modi government “tu idhar udhar ki na baat kar, ye bata ki kaarwan kyon luta, mujhe rahzanon se gila nahin teri rahbari ka sawaal hai (don’t meander, tell me why did the caravan was robbed. I don’t resent the robbers but I am worried about your credibility as the ruler)”.

The former Patna Sahib MP, who represented the seat covering his home town for two consecutive terms, until losing it in 2019, asserted that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav were “absolutely right” in taking exception to Modi’s claim that a new AIIMS has been set up in Darbhanga.

“The PM’s claim may go down in history as yet another goof up by the leader who famously spoke of Alexander reaching the shores of the Ganges and Kabir and Nanak meeting in Gorakhpur. Of course, becoming the Prime Minister does not make you a scholar. But I wonder what type of people brief him. I also wonder whether he listens carefully when he is briefed about issues,” said Sinha.

“It is a fact that six new AIIMS were set up when we were around,” said Sinha, in an indirect reference to his short tenure as Union Health Minister under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

He also deplored Modi’s ‘khooni khel’ (game of blood) jibe at Banerjee claiming it “betrayed the frustration over the thrashing received by the BJP in Panchayat polls, which saw the TMC registering a record win”.

“The PM got so upset when he was called ‘maut ka saudagar’, but he wants to get away by saying whatever he pleases,” alleged Sinha, referring to the remark made by the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“We adore Mamata Banerjee and call him didi (sister). What an ugly thing to say about her at a time when the country is gearing up for Raksha Bandhan festivities,” Sinha added with a rhetorical flourish.

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