It is more or less a foregone conclusion that the election for the next President of India on June 18 would swing the BJP’s way. But picking the right candidate was always going to be important for the Opposition as lessons from the consensus-building exercise will be carried to the 2024 election season.
And 18 Opposition parties have chosen Yashwant Sinha, former Union minister and close confidante of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee whose name commands immense respect in the political circles.
Sinha’s name as the Opposition’s candidate for the presidential elections was proposed by the Trinamool Congress on Tuesday after weeks of speculation which bounced from NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.
Sinha himself dropped the big hint earlier on Tuesday when he cryptically tweeted to say he was “stepping aside” from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which he joined in March last year, a “larger national cause”.
I am grateful to Mamataji for the honour and prestige she bestowed on me in the TMC. Now a time has come when for a larger national cause I must step aside from the party to work for greater opposition unity. I am sure she approves of the step.— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) June 21, 2022
Born on November 6, 1937, Yashwant Sinha attended school and college in Patna. He completed Masters in Political Science from Patna University in 1958 and taught the subject at the institution from 1958 to 1960.
Sinha joined the Indian Administrative Services in 1960 and served in various top posts, including in the Finance Department of the Bihar government and Union Commerce Ministry. He served as First Secretary (Commercial) at the Indian Embassy in Germany from 1971 to 1973, and was appointed Consul General to Frankfurt in 1973 until the next year.
After returning from Frankfurt, Sinha worked with the Bihar government and the Ministry of Industry at the Centre handling industry collaborations, intellectual property rights and technology imports.
1984 was a turning point in Yashwant Sinha’s career. Despite being heavily influenced by Jayprakash Narayan’s socialist movement in the 1970s, Sinha dropped the idea of joining politics around 1974 due to financial constraints. He followed through on the plan 10 years later, joining the Janta Party in 1984. He was made national general secretary in 1986 and entered the Rajya Sabha in 1988. He was appointed the general secretary when the Janata Party came into being in 1989.
He then became finance minister in the short-lived Chandra Shekhar government in 1990-91. Sinha became a BJP spokesperson in June 1996 and later the Minister for External Affairs in the Vajpayee government which ruled between 1989-2004.
He quit the BJP in 2018 after serious differences with the party leadership, but his son Jayant Sinha is BJP MP from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. Since quitting the party, Sinha has remained vocal against the Narendra Modi government’s schemes and policies.
He joined the TMC just before West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021 and was appointed the party’s national vice-president just before the Assembly elections last year.
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