As Mamata Banerjee makes a political tour to Delhi, speculations regarding the formation of the third front are on the rise. It was very clear that Mamata, who has been in touch with most of the opposition, is hell-bent on projecting herself as the leader of the proposed front. In the midst of this, she was even reluctant to meet Rahul Gandhi, and is expanding her political horizons to meet hypothetical expectations.
In due process of building a consensus, Mamata is holding dialogues with leaders across the political spectrum. It comprises of the opposition, unhappy NDA allies like the Shiv Sena, and even those who have just walked out of the NDA like the TDP. Yesterday, Mamata even met a disgruntled bunch of BJP leaders, who have been in the news for their criticism of the Modi government. Mamata Banerjee met Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie, which has set the political world abuzz.
If we look at the profile of these three leaders, there is a common thread to their discontent.
Most political pundits would agree that Yashwant Sinha has never been a team-player. Yashwant Sinha was part of the VP Singh government, but had skipped the swearing-in ceremony as he couldn’t get a cabinet rank. The same pattern was exhibited in his attitude towards the Modi government, as he sulked owing to his non inclusion in the government and his sidelining. Yashwant Sinha had famously sided with Advani and skipped the BJP’s national executive meet in Goa when Narendra Modi was nominated as the prime ministerial candidate. This created ripples which failed to subside, even after his son Jayant Sinha was made minister of state in the Modi government. But the real dissent came to the forefront when his aspiration to be the BRICS Bank chairman was nipped in the bud. Arun Jaitley then referred to Yashwant Sinha as an 80 year old job applicant. This escalated his defiance, and he even created a forum called Rashtra Manch, which became a seething ground for leaders across party lines to vent anti-Modi diatribes.
A similar story can be attributed to Arun Shourie, a noted economist and minister in the Vajpayee cabinet. Arun Shourie in fact had welcomed the move of having Modi as the prime ministerial nominee. Arun Shourie has praised Modi’s administrative skills in the past, and had said it would benefit the decision-making process in governance. Nevertheless, even his non inclusion in the cabinet hit him hard and he too became a critic of the Modi government. Unfortunately, his criticisms have been from the perspective of intense hatred and personal remarks against Prime Minister Modi. On one hand he had called Prime Minister Modi dictatorial, and on the other hand he had remarked that Modi’s PMO is the weakest PMO in history! He had also declared that the demonetization scheme was a scam, but then in the same breath had termed it as an idiotic knee jerk decision. These illogical criticisms emanated from his complete hatred for Modi, and this posturing has severely dented his image.
Shatrughan Sinha recently met convicted RJD chief Lalu Yadav in jail, which was just one of his innumerable anti-party activities. The former film star who belonged to the Advani camp was not happy with the Modi-Shah dominance in the BJP. However, Shatrughan Sinha’s anger seems to stem from the fact that he wasn’t projected as the chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, and this was added to other factors like not being rewarded with any ministry. His biggest concern seems to be retaining the Patna Sahib constituency. With growing prospects of him not getting a BJP ticket, the former minister may seek greener pastures, and has indicated he wants to leave the BJP.
It’s important to note that all three leaders were former ministers, and had imbibed a sense of respect and standing in the party. Nevertheless, their constant anti-party activities and ridiculous statements for the want of a position, have reduced their stature and dwarfed whatever legacy they had earned. Their frustration has increased manifold, as the BJP top brass has reacted with a stoic silence and a sense of indifference. It has not even suspended or removed them from the party. This clever move has rendered their attacks as ineffective, and blunted their larger scheme of victimization and their attempts at being adjudged as martyrs.
Will Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie ever impact national polity? Honestly, joining hands with Mamata will be nothing more than a flash in the pan. With a complicated task of stitching so many parties together, these three leaders have further added more egocentric flavors to the proposed alliance.
Interestingly, Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie have mounted this so-called rebellion in the BJP as they didn’t get their pound of flesh. Their expectations in this new formation would also be about getting a role or a position, and it will certainly add to the existing mess. Just as a bunch of opportunists coming together to survive politically will have no effect on the Modi government, adding three more spent leaders (with no mass following) to this process will be a burden rather than an advantage.
Any form of a proposed third front will not gather strength if more leaders join it, rather it will become more unstable. Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie – The three potential entrants are more likely to be liabilities than assets. The third front with these BJP veterans may soon have its own version of the Margadarshak Mandal.