Rahul Gandhi has emerged as frontrunner for PM post in opposition camp: TMC’s Shatrughan Sinha | India News

KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress MP Shatrughan Sinha on Monday lauded Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra‘ and said he has now emerged as the “frontrunner for the PM post” in the opposition camp.
While speaking to PTI, the actor-turned-politician said Gandhi’s 3,570-km-long march is one of the most historic yatra that the country has witnessed in the recent past and can be compared with Lal Krishna Advani’s ‘Ram Rath Yatra’ in the early 1990s.
However, the former union minister dodged a question about his return to the Congress by saying that his “answer is Khamosh”.
“Rahul Gandhi has come out as a frontrunner after this yatra, and is respectable leader now. He seems quite capable for the PM post.
“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,” Sinha told PTI in a telephonic interview.
This is for the second time in the last three months that Sinha has come out with praising words for Rahul Gandhi and his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
When asked whether the yatra would help the Congress garner votes in the next Lok Sabha polls, Sinha replied in positive.
“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,” Sinha said.
The TMC MP referred to political yatras in the past conducted by L K Advani, and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh in the recent past.
“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 on a wheelchair, you have seen the results in the 2021 assembly polls,” he said.
Sinha had joined the BJP in the early 80s, and served the saffron camp as its star campaigner during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-L K Advani era.
The two-term BJP MP from Patna Sahib later walked out of the party over differences with the present leadership and joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Bollywood actor of the 1970s and 1980s switched over to the TMC in 2022.
He successfully fought the by-election from Asansol, an industrial town in West Bengal.
Asked about NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s recent comment that yatra will help in building consensus among opposition parties, Sinha said he agrees with the view of the veteran politician from Maharashtra.
“I will go by what real Chanakya of India politics- Sharad Pawar- has said. It (yatra) can unite the opposition. Everybody wishes, hopes, and prays,” Sinha said, adding that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be a “game-changer” in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking about who would take up the leadership mantle in the opposition camp, Sinha said one “who will have the highest number of seats will emerge as the leader”.
“People will decide who would become the PM. Anyone with the highest number of seats and support base will be the leader of the opposition camp,” he said.
While advocating opposition unity, Sinha said it is the 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 fulfil 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.
Speaking about differences between the Congress and the TMC, Sinha said he is a “positive person” and hopes that the relation between the two parties would improve in future.
When asked whether he plans to return to the Congress before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Sinha said, “my answer is Khamosh”.
The Asansol MP clarified 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, however, had a piece of advice for his party colleagues who have been critical of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, and said, “no opposition party should be critical of any other opposition outfit in its effort to put up a fight against the BJP,” he added.

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