‘Shotgun’ Shatrughan Sinha is not known to mince his words. A successful Bollywood actor and a senior BJP leader, Shatrughan Sinha in a chat with Swati Chaturvedi of Zee News on ‘Kahiye Janab’ talked about various issues ranging from the leadership crisis in the BJP to the possibility of being projected as Bihar Chief Minister.
Swati Chaturvedi: People had a lot of expectations from you. What has happened now? Has Shatrughan Sinha broken down?
Shatrughan Sinha: No. I have not broken down. I am tired after saying this repeatedly. Now is the time to see something, to listen to something. After action, it is time for reaction now.
Swati: You recently praised Rahul Gandhi following which there was an outcry within the Bharatiya Janata Party with some members demanding action against you saying that you are a loose canon which bursts anywhere?
Shatrughan: I am not a loose canon. People know it. I am very straightforward in my nature and it is my habit to call a spade a spade. I think that Rahul (Gandhi) is very cultured and his thinking is also good. If a young leader – irrespective of his party affiliations – is focussing on Dalits, have-nots, is paying attention to villages and doing good work, then me praising him is neither a big deal nor something bad.
Swati: After your appreciation of Rahul, some ‘monsoon frogs’ called for your expulsion. Following this, RSS also praised the Gandhi scion. What is this connivance between you and the RSS which the BJP doesn’t know?
Shatrughan: I am a man for all seasons. Why should I bother about a few ‘monsoon frogs’? It will be a big shame and matter of sadness – for me and my supporters - if I get frightened by their croaking. If RSS has praised Rahul Gandhi or his work then it is a good thing and secondly, good people think along the same lines.
Swati: But what is this combination RSS, BJP and Shatrughan Sinha?
Shatrughan: Ye andar ki baat hai (It’s a secret)
Swati: Are you with the BJP?
Shatrughan: I am absolutely with the BJP and as long as I am with the BJP I cannot violate its dignity.
Swati: Why is there a leadership crisis in BJP? Who is your leader?
Shatrughan: My family considers my wife Poonam Sinha as my leader.
Swati: Apart from that?
Shatrughan: You must know. We have many leaders. But in the context of your question, I would say that unfortunately there is a leadership crisis in our party; that is what people feel. As I don’t want to violate any type of dignity, I will refrain from commenting on the decision taken by the parliamentary board. But yes, I was certainly saddened by the decision.
Swati: The way Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and you were, do you think that there are those in BJP who are responsible for the party’s defeat but are treated like royalty while people like you are sidelined?
Shatrughan: That is why I say an issue’s importance won’t die down by sweeping it under the carpet. A wound will be aggravated by hiding it. In party’s interest and in national interest I say that this is not the time rub the wounds, it is the time to heal them.
Swati: Jaswant Singh was expelled without even being given chance to explain his stand. You leader LK Advani frequently change his decisions. At one point he regrets it while at other he says that he was not part of the decision. What is this? Is it a grave leadership crisis?
Shatrughan: That’s what I was saying. I don’t want to say anything about the decision of the parliamentary board. But what was the result of the decision – a decision which I regret. A decision where the other person’s book was not read. A decision where neither any show-cause notice or warning was issued nor was the other person given a chance to explain his side. A towering leader, who was with the BJP since its inception, was expelled in a hasty decision. What happened after that? When man of stature is expelled results are bound to be painful and that’s what is happening. The leaders of RSS are not only pondering over the issue of leadership crisis but are making every effort to fix it which is a good thing. I agree with Arun Shourie that RSS must take over the reins of the BJP.
Swati: Arun Shourie called your party president Tarzan and lachaar thakur. He said that Arun Jaitely briefs five journalists off the record and charged that in BJP, leaders only plant stories against each other. Shourie also said that a person like LK Advani, who changed his statements thrice on three important issues, should not have been a Prime Ministerial candidate?
Shatrughan: I would like to say in one line that these are big talk of big people and I don’t want to get into this at all.
Swati: Your party didn’t give anything to you. Why have you not been made the general secretary of the party?
Shatrughan: I don’t want to comment on it right now. But I feel that what is happening (in the party) is not right. I say this because if analysis of the defeat is done then why is accountability not fixed? And if accountability is fixed why is it selective? This is the question in the minds of the people. People feel that those who should have been expelled are kept in the party and are shielded. What answer should we give to the people?
Swati: Why are you not a Chief Ministerial candidate for Bihar?
Shatrughan: Neither have I any expectation or the desire to be the CM of Bihar nor is there any vacancy at this point of time.
Adaptated by: Abhishek Singh Samant