There is a fear psychosis in the ruling BJP and every decision of the government has to come from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), says Shatrughan Sinha, fresh out of the party after years of bitterness. One man show, two-man army, he repeats, targeting the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Shatrughan Sinha, 72, shared that before he decided to join the Congress, he had been invited by leaders like Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.
"I am so grateful to them. I also met my family friend Lalu Yadav. He and his family advised that if I am not joining their RJD, then I should join the Congress," the actor-turned-politician told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
The Congress, he added, was the best option for him after the BJP "shut all doors" on him. "It is a national party. If I had to go anywhere it is here. It is the party of Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru. It had star PMs of the country, from Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi. The party had a big contribution to independence," he said.
Shatrughan Sinha's exit from the BJP was precipitated by the BJP's announcement that Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would contest from Patna Sahib, the seat he won from in 2009 and 2014. In the build-up to the inevitable break-up, the outspoken actor-politician had needled his party bosses repeatedly on Twitter. Among the last few tweets he posted while still in the BJP was one that referred to PM Modi as "Outgoing Sir-ji".
Shatrughan Sinha will now contest as the Congress candidate from the same seat. "I am the candidate of the gathbandhan (opposition alliance) but the seat was in the Congress quota."
Accusing the BJP of whipping up national fervour, he questioned the mindset that "whoever doesn't agree with you is anti-national".
That brought him to the subject of Atal Bihari Vajpayee versus Narendra Modi, representing two eras of the BJP. "One was lokshahi (democracy), the other is tanashahi (dictatorship). Modi is my friend. I am not against him but his false promises, shoot and scoot policy. Has there been any PM that has not addressed a press conference," said Shatrughan Sinha, who was a minister twice in Vajpayee-led governments.