At an event in New Delhi, the BJP MP took several swipes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani
Days after the Congress party and its youth wing courted controversy and beat a hasty retreat after posting a meme on Twitter that mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘chaiwala’ past, senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha has now used the same label to take a dig at the Premier.
Addressing a book launch event in the national capital on Thursday, Shatrughan Sinha – a senior BJP MP – said: “If ‘vakeel babu’ can speak on finance, if a TV actress can become the country’s HRD (human resource development) minister and if a ‘chaiwala’ can become… I won’t even complete that sentence… why can’t I speak about the economy.”
While Sinha didn’t take any names while making his tongue-in-cheek comment, it was easy for anyone to guess that his broadside was directed at the Prime Minister and his close cabinet colleagues – finance minister Arun Jaitley and HRD minister Smriti Irani.
Curiously, Sinha’s comments come at a time when his party’s leaders and senior ministers in the Narendra Modi-led government have been dubbing the Congress party as “arrogant, anti-poor and classist” for the controversial meme that was tweeted earlier this week from the Twitter handle of Yuva Desh, a magazine published by the Indian Youth Congress, the youth wing of the Grand Old Party.
The meme had showed Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May in conversation. The quote bubbles in the meme showed Modi telling the two world leaders: “Aap logon ne dekha vipaksh mere kaise kaise maimai banvata hai?” While Trump is shown correcting Modi, saying the word is pronounced as ‘meem’ — “usse maimai nahin, meem kehte hain”, a serious-looking British Prime Minister is seen telling Modi to go and sell — “Tu chai bech”.
As several BJP leaders, including union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and JP Nadda, lashed out at the Congress over the meme, the tweet was deleted and Youth Congress national president Amarinder Singh Raja had issued an apology for the obvious gaffe.
However, the controversy over the meme obviously didn’t stop Sinha, one of the earliest Bollywood actors to join the BJP and also serve as a Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government – from using the ‘chaiwala’ reference for Modi.
And, it wasn’t just Modi’s profession from his pre-politics days that Sinha commented on. The actor-turned-politician, who has often taken a contrarian position on issues dear to the BJP and Modi, also attacked the Centre on a slew of other issues, including demonetisation and the GST rollout.
The senior BJP MP from Patna smartly twisted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popular anti-graft slogan ‘na khaoonga, na khane doonga’, to hit out at the current political dispensation at the Centre.
“I did not join politics saying ‘na jeeoonga na jeene doonga’ (neither will I live, nor allow others to live),” Sinha said, adding: “The atmosphere nowadays is such that either you support a person or be ready to be called anti-national”.
Shatrughan Sinha also spoke about the what he felt was the norm in the Modi government today; calling the Union council of ministers “a bunch of sycophants”.
“Ninety per cent of ministers are those who you (people) don’t know. They are here not to do something creative or constructive…. they are just busy saving their jobs,” the BJP leader said.
Hitting out at the BJP government’s economic policies, Sinha claimed, “Demonetisation has rendered millions jobless, factories have been shut, small traders, hawkers are out of work and GST is like ‘neem chadha karela’. If I do not speak for the youth, for the poor and downtrodden, for the oppressed, then what am I doing in politics (sic).”
The former union minister also targeted the Modi government over the perception of “rising intolerance” in the country.
“What is happening in this country? Cow vigilantes are killing people, intellectuals, writers, journalists… and now even judges are being killed. ‘Aaj dhan shakti jan shakti par bhari hai’… if people like me come forward (to speak against these issues), we are attributed motives, we are questioned (sic),” he said.