Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha has urged the party’s MPs to “speak up in national interest” as the situation today demands it. In an editorial for The Indian Express titled “Dear friend, speak up”, Sinha highlighted the pressing concerns of the day, including women’s safety, the state of democracy and functioning of Parliament, the economic crisis as well as foreign policy.

“If you remain silent now, you will do a great disservice to the country,” Sinha wrote. “Future generations are unlikely to forgive you. It is your right to demand accountability from those who are in government today and are letting down the country. The interest of the country supersedes that of the party, just as the interest of the party supersedes the interest of an individual.”

On crimes against women, he said, “women are more unsafe today than ever before”. “Rapes have become the order of the day, and instead of acting strictly against the rapists, we have become their apologists,” Sinha wrote. “In many cases, our own people are involved in these heinous crimes.”

His remarks were in reference to the Unnao and Kathua rape cases. In the Unnao case, a BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, is accused of raping a teenager in June 2017. In Kathua, eight people are accused of abducting, sedating, repeatedly raping and murdering an eight-year-old in January. Two BJP ministers in the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet resigned after their participation in a rally organised in support of one of the accused led to massive outrage.

On the second half of the Budget session being a complete washout, Sinha said the Parliament “has been reduced to the level of a joke”. “The prime minister did not even once sit down with senior leaders of the Opposition parties in Parliament when the just-concluded Budget Session was being disrupted to find a way out,” he said. “Then he fasted to shift the blame to others.”

The BJP leader also pointed the “grim” economic situation, “despite tall claims to the contrary”. “A fast-growing economy does not accumulate the kind of non-performing assets in its banks as we have over the last four years,” the former finance minister noted in his editorial. “In a fast-growing economy, farmers are not in distress, the youth are not without jobs, small businesses do not stand destroyed and savings and investment do not fall as drastically as they have done over the last four years.”

He also pointed out how “scamsters manage to run away from the country” – referring to businessmen Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and former Indian Premier League Chairperson Lalit Modi – and the scale and number of “banking scams tumbling out of the closet”.

“I don’t know how many of you will get tickets for the next Lok Sabha elections but if previous experience is any guide, at least half of you will not,” he told BJP MPs. “Even if you get tickets, the chances of your winning are fairly remote.”

“Please pick up courage and speak up and save democracy and the country,” Sinha stressed, adding that “the government has used up all the opportunity available” in the past four years to show that it had done any good. “We seem to have lost our way and the confidence of the voters,” he wrote.