New Delhi: Heaping praise on his former party colleague for “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Shatrughan Sinha on Monday (January 9, 2023) said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has now emerged as the “frontrunner for the PM post” in the opposition camp. The actor-turned-politician said that Gandhi’s 3,570-km-long foot march is one of the most historic yatras that India has witnessed in the recent past and can be compared with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani’s “Ram Rath Yatra” in the early 1990s.
“Rahul Gandhi has come out as a frontrunner after this yatra and is a respected leader now. He seems quite capable for the PM post,” Sinha told the news agency PTI.
“He has now become a frontrunner (for the PM post) in the opposition camp. Lakhs of people are coming out in his support. He has proved his leadership quality. People have accepted him as a leader,” he added.
This was for the second time in the last three months that the TMC MP has praised Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
Will Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra help Congress garner votes in 2024 Lok Sabha polls?
When asked whether Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra would help the Congress garner votes in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Shatrughan Sinha referred to political yatras in the past conducted by LK Advani and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
“The kind of support he is receiving is unprecedented. Even if this euphoria converts into 20 per cent votes, it would be great for the nation and the Congress party in particular,” he said.
“We have witnessed how long marches have helped translate into votes in the past. We have seen the yatra of L K Advani and Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh. In West Bengal elections, when Mamata Banerjee got injured and later campaigned in a wheelchair, you have seen the results in the 2021 assembly polls,” he said.
Will TMC MP Shatrughan Sinha rejoin Congress?
When asked whether he plans to return to the Congress before the 2024 General Elections, Shatrughan Sinha said, “my answer is Khamosh”.
“Khamosh” (keep quiet) was one of Sinha’s iconic dialogues.
The Asansol MP said that he firmly stands as a lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee and has “full faith and respect for her leadership”, who is a tried and tested leader of the country.
Sinha joined the BJP in the early 80s and served the saffron camp as its star campaigner during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani era.
The two-term BJP MP from Patna Sahib later walked out of the party over differences with the leadership and joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Bollywood actor of the 1970s and 1980s then switched over to Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in 2022 and successfully fought the by-election from Asansol in West Bengal.
High time for opposition to get united
While advocating opposition unity, Shatrughan Sinha said that it is “high time” for the opposition to get united.
“With due respect to all, I must say the opposition must unite in general and as a nation in particular. When anti-incumbency is rising, and you fail to fulfill your promises, people vote against the ruling party. When we have Rahul Gandhi as a frontrunner and Mamata Banerjee as a game changer, then nothing seems to be impossible,” he said.