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The former finance minister quotes characters from Mahabharata to counter Prime Minister’s similarly veiled-attack in which he referred to Shalya

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have thought that he scored a point over political leaders – including those from the BJP – who were chastising him for the slowing pace of India’s economy by referring to them as Shalya, a character from Mahabharata, former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha has now used the same Hindu epic in his riposte to the jibe.

The BJP ‘margdarshak’, who had last week hit out at Union finance minister Arun Jaitley for making a “mess” of the Indian economy, likened the Prime Minister and BJP national president Amit Shah with the eldest Kaurava brothers Duryodhana and Dushasan while speaking at a book launch function in New Delhi on Friday evening.

Urging people to “stand up” to save the great tradition of parliamentary democracy, Sinha said that “darr” (fear) and democracy don’t go together.

Modi and Shah

“Mahabharata has been the flavour of the last couple of days,” Sinha said adding that “some people are talking about Shalya. I don’t know how much they know about Shalya. In Mahabharata, there are two famous characters – Duryodhana and Dushasan. The Kauravas were 100 brothers. Out of them only two became infamous, Duryodhana and Dushasan. Do I need to say anything more.”

Sinha’s not-so-veiled attack on Modi and Shah was in reference to the Prime Minister’s recent comment in which he had said that like the Mahabharata character Shalya, some people were “spreading pessimism and get a good night’s sleep only after they spread gloom and hopelessness.”

The character that Modi had referred to – Shalya – was the ruler of the Madra kingdom in the historic Hindu epic. Being the brother of Madri, one of the wives of King Pandu, Shalya was expected to fight for the Pandavas against the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra battle. But on being wooed by the Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, he decided to be with them and became the charioteer of Karna, another warrior who should have been part of the Pandava army but ironically ended up fighting against them.

Modi’s comment was an indirect attack at Yashwant Sinha and former Union minister Arun Shourie – both senior BJP leaders who were seemingly helping the Opposition by attacking the Centre over its economic policies.

What is certain to have irked the BJP even more about Sinha’s comments was that they were made at a function organised to launch a book, titled ‘Tidings of Troubled Times’, which has been authored by Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

Comparing the Modi-Shah duo with the two key villains of Mahabharata aside; Sinha also made other scathing criticisms of the BJP and its central leadership.

“The soul of democracy is consensus. So even if you have the numbers, you have to reach out to other people and parties to try and get them along,” the BJP veteran, who alongwith LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi was made part of the party’s ‘margdarshak mandal’ soon after Modi was elected Prime Minister in 2014, said while recalling the era of former prime ministers like Chandra Shekhar and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Nobody talked about Mukt-this Mukt-that because we are all part of the democratic process and we know that democracy means discussion, debate and an evolution of consensus based on these discussions,” Sinha said in a clear reference to the BJP’s “Congress-mukt Bharat” poll slogan.

“If debates and discussions don’t take place, consensus will not be there and that will kill the very fabric of democracy,” the senior BJP leader added while stressing on the need to have dissenting voices in a healthy democratic set-up.

Sinha didn’t miss a chance to take a dig at his favourite punching bag these days – Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. “Some people believe that at this ripe old age of 80, I am perhaps looking for a job,” Sinha said in reference to Jaitley’s recent comment where he made a veiled attack at his senior BJP colleague calling him a “job aspirant at 80”.

“Now, I come from a part of the country that has produced a famous character. His name is Babu Kunwar Singh. Babu Kunwar Singh became a major freedom fighter in the first war of Independence of 1857. When he joined the war he was 80 years old. So there is no age bar for fighting for freedom,” Sinha said.

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