NEW DELHI:Shatrughan Sinha has delivered the latest of his takedowns of his own party, the BJP, in imitable style by describing its effort to consult other parties about who should be President of India as little more than “ringa ringa roses.”
Mr Sinha, 71, balanced his criticism with declaring himself as “a loyalist” and a string of flattering adjectives for the BJP’s choice for President, Ram Nath Kovind, who he appraised as a “learned, seasoned, perfect gentleman”.
The actor-turned-politician, who represents Patna in parliament, said the BJP had not been mature or transparent enough in how it shortlisted and named Mr Kovind, who was till today the Governor of Bihar, which is Mr Sinha’s home state.
Similar complaints have been lodged by the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, which said it was informed of Mr Kovind’s candidature by the media, and by the opposition, which says that though BJP delegates met leaders of other parties last week, they offered no name for discussion – and certainly not that of Mr Kovind.
The “unilateral decision” of the government, Left Leader Sitaram Yechury said, is likely to provoke the opposition to put up a candidate of its own, which means that an election for President would be held on July 17.
However, opposition parties have cautioned that it would be unfeasible for them to oppose Mr Kovind, who is a Dalit leader. Opposition heavyweights from Mayawati to Nitish Kumar have refused to reject him outright. A meeting in Delhi tomorrow, likely to be chaired by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, will determine the opposition’s next move.
Mr Sinha’s tweets today restated his earlier wish for BJP veteran LK Advani to be nominated for President. In 2013, Mr Sinha was part of a group led by Mr Advani that urged the BJP against picking then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its presumptive Prime Minister, a request that was rejected.
Mr Modi led his party to a stellar victory, but Mr Sinha has struggled to reconcile with the turn of events. He is often unsparing of BJP policies, and hobbies in meeting with opposition leaders when they are smack in the middle of mega confrontations with his party.