Patna: On the day of polling at the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, 19 May, Congress candidate Shatrughan Sinha called up ‘nephew’, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, to urge him to vote. The young inheritor of Lalu Prasad’s political legacy was in Delhi. Neither did he receive the call nor did he bother to call back.
“The ageing former film star was clearly frustrated,” said a close aide. To add to the ignominy, Sinha has lost to the Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad by around 1.5 lakh votes. Counting has ended in the constituency, however, results are yet to be formally declared.
The result in Patna Sahib is hardly a surprise, given the fact that it is a BJP bastion. But the loss has cast a big shadow on an otherwise distinguished political career. Sinha has been a Rajya Sabha MP for 12 years and a member of the Lok Sabha for 10 years, all as part of the BJP, the party he called his “first and last choice” till about six months ago.
Now, at 74, Sinha’s political career appears to be on its last legs.
A BJP minister told ThePrint that his public life has followed the trajectory of his movie career that began in the ’60s. “He was a villain that the crowds loved and even applauded when he beat up the heroes on the silver screen. Now that he has been defeated, it is the same feeling,” the minister said.
“He was the biggest cine star Bihar has ever produced and a crowd-puller. It is sad that he turned out to be a political villain for us. But he will continue to be loved and respected by us.”
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A full circle
With the Patna Sahib loss, Sinha’s political career has come full circle. He began his electoral debut with a loss in the 1992 bypoll for the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency.
Sinha, the BJP candidate, was pitted against another movie star, the late Rajesh Khanna, who was the Congress candidate. Sinha lost but he flourished in the BJP under the tutelage of late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former BJP president L.K. Advani.
Sinha was brought in as a candidate in the bypoll that had been necessitated by Advani’s resignation. The former BJP chief had won the 1991 Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar and New Delhi and he chose to give up the capital seat.
Such was Sinha’s proximity to Advani and Vajpayee that he cared little for BJP leaders in Bihar, routinely making statements that hurt the party’s interests in the state.
He praised RJD chief Lalu when the BJP was behind the legal and political battle in the fodder scam. He praised Nitish Kumar as “PM material” when the Bihar Chief Minister had snapped ties with BJP and thrown out the party’s ministers. Yet state BJP leaders did not dare utter a word against him because of his closeness to Advani.
Also read: BJP is a one-man show, two-men army…that’s why I’m in Congress, says Shatrughan Sinha
The Modi baiter
His luck ran out with the emergence of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Sinha continued his tirade against the BJP, this time targeting Modi for overshadowing the party old guard of senior leaders such as Advani, Yashwant Sinha, and Murli Manohar Joshi.
“He appears to have ignored the fact that the era of Advani like his own stardom was over and leaders like Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have very little patience for dissent,” said the BJP minister.
The final straw came when the BJP dropped him for Prasad in the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. It forced him to join the Mahagathbandan, which fielded him in the constituency that he is the sitting MP.
But even during the campaign, he appeared to have very little appetite for it, shuttling between Patna, Lucknow, where his wife Poonam Sinha is the Mahagathbandan candidate, and Mumbai, where he lives.
Now, with this loss, he looks set to join the political cold storage that has other BJP leaders turned Modi-baiters such as Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.
Shotgun Sinha’s arrogance is bitten to dust by this loss. Time for him to say ‘Khamosh!’ to himself.
Now ShotGun will know that being a hero in Bollywood has no match with a hero in people’s heart.
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