Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who recently switched sides from the BJP to the Congress, while praising his new party on Friday, invoked Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah along with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru.
"The Congress family, from Mahatma Gandhi to Sardar Patel to Mohammad Ali Jinnah to Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi to Netaji Subhash Chnadra Bose. It is their party. They had the most important role in development and freedom of the country. This is the reason why I have come here (in Congress)," Mr Sinha said in Hindi at a rally in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara.
Reacting to Mr Sinha's remarks, the Congress said he must "explain". "Shatrughan Sinha, whatever his views are, he must explain. But a few days ago, he was part of BJP. So let the BJP explain why he was a part of the BJP for so many years. I don't have to explain the statement of every member(Congress). I can only speak for the party's official position," senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said.
Mr Sinha clarified on Saturday, saying, "Whatever I said yesterday was a slip of tongue. I wanted to say Maulana Azad but uttered Muhammad Ali Jinnah."
Shatrughan Sinha, 72, was in Madhya Pradesh to campaign for Chief Minister Kamal Nath's son Nakul Nath, who is contesting the national election from the Chhindwara parliamentary constituency.
#WATCH Shatrughan Sinha, Congress in Chhindwara, MP: Congress family from Mahatma Gandhi to Sardar Patel to Mohd Ali Jinnah to Jawaharlal Nehru...it's their party, they had the most important role in development & freedom of the country. This is the reason I've come here. (26.4) pic.twitter.com/HJg3EV8rNE— ANI (@ANI) April 27, 2019
Soon after joining the Congress, Mr Sinha had ruffled many feathers within the party when he recently campaigned for his wife Poonam who is contesting from Lucknow on a Samajwadi Party ticket, though the Congress has also fielded its candidate from there.
His recent praise for Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, calling them "Prime Minister material", too drew censure from a section of Congress leaders who found it objectionable after the gathbandhan or the grand alliance left the Congress out of the equation.
Mr Sinha, while in the BJP, was openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
His tweet-a-day barbs were increasingly provocative for the party. In January, he even joined opposition leaders in a mega rally in Kolkata hosted by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In an association that had been souring for years, the proverbial last straw was the BJP snubbing him and naming a different candidate, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, for his Patna Sahib constituency in Bihar where he has been the lawmaker for a decade.
Shatrughan Sinha will take on Mr Prasad as the Congress candidate from Patna Sahib.
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