Yashwant Sinha quits BJP, vows to unite non-BJP leaders

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha announced that he was quitting the BJP and party politics. PTI File Photo

Former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha on Saturday quit the BJP and asserted that he was taking "sanyas" from "party politics".

"I am severing all ties with the BJP. I am also bidding goodbye to party politics... which essentially means I won't accept any top post in any party or government," said Yashwant, while addressing the first convention of the Rashtra Manch, a non-political outfit he had floated in January this year.

"However, I will continue to work for the protection of democracy, which is under threat in the present dispensation. As a first step, I will unite all the non-BJP parties, although I won't join any political party," Yashwant said.

Flanked by Congress leader Renuka Choudhary, rebel BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, RLD leader Jayant Choudhary (son of Ajit Singh), TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, Yashwant said that all the democratic institutions are today under grave threat.

"Even the Opposition is treated like an enemy. The Narendra Modi government does not want Parliament to function and blames Opposition for stalling proceedings in the House. When we were in the Vajpayee cabinet, we had clear instructions from the prime minister that the Opposition should be allowed to raise its voice and its concern should be addressed. In today's dispensation, it’s exactly the opposite approach," said Yashwant, who also held the portfolio of external affairs in the Vajpayee cabinet from 2002 to 2004.

Yashwant first became Union finance minister in the short-lived Chandrashekhar government in November 1990. He joined the BJP in the mid-90s.

At today's meet in Patna's S K Memorial Hall, Shatrughan lambasted the Centre, particularly the top BJP leadership, and compared it with "Alibaba and chalis chor" (Alibaba and the forty thieves), although he did not name anyone.

"When I went to meet an ailing Lalu Prasad in the hospital, I was told by my party colleagues that in this 'era of revenge politics', I may be punished for meeting a jailed leader. But I told the colleagues that Lalu has been a dear friend. And once a friend, always a friend. To this, I was told that I too may be put behind bars for hobnobbing with the Opposition leaders," Sinha said. He is the Lok Sabha member from Patna Sahib.

Rebel JD (U) leader Uday Narayan Choudhary, who was the Bihar Assembly Speaker from 2005 to 2015, also shared the dais with Yashwant Sinha.

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