Bharatiya Janata Party veteran leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday floated a political action group called Rashtra Manch, to launch a movement against the Centre’s policies, PTI reported. An event inaugurating the forum brought together politicians across party lines.
“Rashtra Manch will be a non-party political action group,” Sinha said. Calling it a “national movement”, Sinha said, “It is not against any party but it will work to highlight national issues.”
The situation in India today is like it was 70 years ago, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, said the former Union minister, adding that democracy and its institutions were under attack.
The Narendra Modi government has reduced farmers to “the status of beggars” and presented “made-to-order” statistics to suit its interests, he said, The Hindu reported. “Everybody in the BJP is living in fear. We are not.”
Among the leaders who joined the group was BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who said he would not have joined the group if the BJP allowed him to express his views. Shatrughan Sinha said his support to the Rashtra Manch should not be seen as an “anti-party activity”. The MP from Patna Sahib has earlier criticised his party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over demonetisation, and the Goods and Services Tax.
Other leaders at the event included Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury, Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon, Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh, former Gujarat Chief Minister Suresh Mehta and Janata Dal (United) leader Pavan Verma. Former Union ministers Som Pal and Harmohan Dhawan also attended, PTI reported.
While no leader from the Left Front attended, Yashwant Sinha said the Left will eventually participate, as it was an “evolving” forum, NDTV reported.
Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister, has been at loggerheads with the BJP since September 2017, when he wrote an article attacking the government for the economic slowdown. The article led to verbal exchanges between him and other BJP members, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who called him a “job applicant at 80”.
Sinha had also criticised the government for introducing five different slabs for the Goods and Services Tax. He had also accused the prime minister of not meeting him, saying he had waited 13 months to get an appointment.