Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday claimed that the central government's flagship projects - the National Highway Development Project (NHDP) and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) - were originally his ideas, and accused his erstwhile colleagues in the BJP of "unfairly" taking credit for them.
The diplomat-turned-politician had held the finance and external affairs portfolios in former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet between 1998 and 2004. He also served as the Finance Minister under former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar through 1990-91.
"The national highway project was entirely my idea. For me, the NHDP was no new thought. I had nurtured it from the time I was posted in Germany in the 1970s. Germany is famous for its autobahns (a federal controlled-access highway system)," Mr Sinha wrote in "Relentless", his recently launched autobiography. "I had resolved way back then that I would bring autobahns to India if I get the chance."
Launched in 1998, the NHDP aims to upgrade and widen major highways across the country. It includes the Golden Quadrilateral connecting four metropolises, besides the North-South Corridor linking Srinagar with Kanyakumari and the East-West Corridor joining Porbandar and Silchar.
Mr Sinha, who quit the BJP last year, also claimed that the PMGSY was his idea. "At a meeting with Vajpayee, I first suggested that we launch a new scheme for the construction of rural roads and earmark separate funds towards this. I even suggested that the programme be called the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Gram Sadak Yojana. Although Vajpayee liked the idea, he rejected the suggestion that the scheme be named after him," he says.
The 81-year-old former Union Minister claimed that the success of the rural roads scheme, officially launched in 2000, has led to many "fake paternity claims". "They are all wrong. Some of these ''fake fathers'' may have been involved in the design or implementation of the scheme, but the scheme itself was not conceived by them," he said.
Mr Sinha said that his civil service background had taught him to remain anonymous. "Many did tell me that I had to learn to manage the media in a challenging world, but I was loath to do so."
Published by Bloomsbury India, "Relentless" is the former Union Minister's take on politics, religion, democracy and its institutions. It also dwells on his family, personal struggle and ambitions.
(With inputs from PTI)