The BJP must lose the upcoming West Bengal Assembly election and that loss will send a nationwide "message of assurance", former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha said today, a day after joining the Trinamool Congress. Asserting that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party will retain the state with a thumping majority, he said he had thrown his lot in with her without any preconditions.
"I joined the TMC to strengthen her (Mamata Banerjee's) hands...She is fighting her battle, she is fighting the battle of Bengal. She is also fighting for the nation. This Bengal election, because of the hype the BJP has created around it, has suddenly become an election of national importance," Mr Sinha, 83, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
"Therefore it is very important that Mamata wins and the BJP loses in Bengal. It will send a nationwide message of assurance," the former BJP leader said.
Having quit his earlier party, the BJP, in 2018, his joining the Trinamool weeks ahead of the Assembly polls is being viewed as a key victory for an outfit that has seen a steady outflow of both leaders and cadres in the past few months.
He referred to the injury sustained by Ms Banerjee in Nandigram, implying that it goes with her reputation as a fighter since the early 1990s.
"Despite the falsehoods, which has been sought to be spread by the BJP and other adversaries of Mamata Banerjee, the fact of the matter is that she is hurt. That her leg is in a plaster cast. She is unable to move. She is hurt at many other places also. And she is still campaigning in this condition," he said.
"So it is quite natural, this will evoke the sympathy of the people," he said.
Asked how his joining the Trinamool make a difference at this juncture, Mr Sinha said that was not for him to asses as "all this happened rather quickly". He then spelt out the sequence of unexpected events that led to his shift, concluding that "within a day everything was tied up".
Coming down to voting patterns in the state, he said Ms Banerjee and the Trinamool have their appeal across all sections, which includes the minorities. "Minorities have always voted wisely...they will do so this time, too," he said.
He didn't give much importance to film star Mithun Chakrborty joining the BJP recently: "The biggest star in West Bengal is Mamata Banerjee herself. There is no other star who can come anywhere near her."
The former Union Minister once again narrated Ms Banerjee's role during the Kandahar hijack episode of the late 1990s. Yesterday, immediately after joining the Trinamool, he had said she had offered herself as a hostage to the Taliban in exchange for the passengers of the hijacked plane.
To a question whether the Trinamool and Ms Banerjee can unite the opposition, he said the victory in the upcoming polls will add to her importance among the nation's many leaders.