Yashwant Sinha, former Union Finance Minister under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today joined the Trinamool Congress weeks ahead of the West Bengal Assembly election. The 83-year-old had quit his earlier party, the BJP, in 2018. His joining Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s side is likely to be viewed as a prize catch for an outfit that has seen a steady outflow of both leaders and cadres in the past few months.
Mr. Sinha 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. The senior leader had met Ms Banerjee at her residence before joining the party.
He raised several issues today at the press meet, including the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the border situation with China. 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 Atalji’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 said.
Coming to the elections, he cast doubts on the poll body, too: “I say it with a lot of responsibility that the Election Commission is no longer a neutral body.”
In the run-up to the Bengal polls, the Trinamool has seen a steady stream of leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee shifting loyalties to the BJP, a party keen on replacing Ms Banerjee’s regime. Mr. Sinha’s entry into the party at this juncture helps Bengal’s ruling regime hold up an example, at least symbolically, of these defections being a two-way street.
A Look at the Career Graph of Yashwant Sinha the Politician
While it is Sinha’s politics that has been in focus, it was his role in government that had catapulted the former Indian Administrative Service officer turned politician into prominence.
The Chandra Shekhar years
Sinha was expecting to become the external affairs minister when the Chandra Shekhar government was formed in November 1990. But Chandra Shekhar tasked him to handle the finance portfolio, ostensibly to manage an impending economic disaster, which would manifest as the Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis.