Actor politician Shatrughan Sinha, who after 20 years of association with the BJP, moved to the Congress this year, told NDTV that he is going in the "right direction and a better direction" and he had party veteran LK Advani's blessing for it. "When I came and joined the new direction, the better direction, I took Advaniji's blessings. He almost had tears in his eyes, but he didn't say 'mat jao (don't go)'. He said 'Okay, love you'," Shatrughan Sinha told NDTV's Prannoy Roy.
Mr Sinha, who had joined the BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was at the helm, says the difference between then and now is the difference between "Lok Sahi (democracy)' and "Tana Shahi (autocracy)". The current dispensation in the BJP has not treated its veterans well, he said, citing the example of Mr Advani, Mr Vajapayee and others.
LK Advani, a founder-member of the BJP, was dropped from the BJP list of candidates and replaced by party chief Amit Shah for the election in Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat. Sources had said he was extremely upset about the way the exercise was conducted. "No big leader contacted him," said a source close to the BJP veteran, who represented Gandhinagar for six consecutive terms.
The matter had provided ammunition to the Congress, which accused the BJP of giving shabby treatment to its veterans.
Mr Sinha, who had been repeatedly criticised the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past two years, was also unceremoniously dropped from the Patna Sahib constituency in Bihar. He changed camp within days.
"I will never bow down to them, like Advani-ji - that they asked me to sit so I will sit down," he said.
Asked if the Balakot strikes are making a difference in this election, Mr Sinha said, "Every Indian is a nationalist'.
But by raising the nationalism issue, PM Modi is only dodging questions, he said. "Our Honourable PM believes in the shoot-and-scoot policy. When we ask him about employment, he talks about Pulwama... Why is he not answering the questions people want to know?"
PM Modi, he said, will not be a prime Minister any more after May 23, the day votes are counted. "Mamata Banerjee is our friend and the iron lady has rightly said that his expiry time is over. And now I only wish him well wherever he wants to go... he used to say that 'I will pick up my 'jholi' (bag) and walk away. Now it is time for him to pick up his 'jholi' and go away," Shatrughan Sinha said.