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|December 12, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Shatrughan Sinha
Consummate actor that he is, film star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha has managed to hide his hurt under tongue-in-cheek one-liners. The Bharatiya Janata Party's Rajya Sabha member is still seething at having been denied a ministerial berth by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has also defiantly supported the opposition's demand for the resignation of Defence Minister George Fernandes.
Sinha argues that Fernandes's reinduction into the Cabinet is unethical because the Justice K Venkataswami Commission is yet to complete its inquiry into the Tehelka scandal. He spoke to Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi, after attending Union Civil Aviation Minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain's iftaar party. Excerpts from the interview:
Are you trying to provoke the BJP leadership to expel you from the party by continuing to insist that George Fernandes should resign because his reinduction is unethical?
It is all a matter of interpretation. I am only being honest to myself by doing what is expected of me. I feel that Mr Fernandes being made minister when the Tehelka investigation is going on is unethical. I have voiced my mind.
So you don't discount the possibility of leaving the BJP?
I don't discount the possibility of leaving my wife tomorrow or, for that matter, you leaving your wife. Why are you looking at the future when the present beckons you.
What happens to your self-proclaimed respect for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for whom you reportedly joined the BJP?
Vajpayeeji is our prime minister and a father figure. I respect him immensely [Sinha greeted Vajpayee at Hussain's iftaar party and the latter responded with a smile].
Does your respect for the prime minister mean that you hurt him where it hurts most -- on his prerogative to appoint any minister he wants?
Let me ask you a counter-question. There are able parliamentarians in our party and they too aspire to serve as ministers. Why should a tainted person be accommodated? The BJP is a democratic party, ask any of its members, and I am exercising my democratic right by questioning an improper appointment.
Aren't you opening yourself to disciplinary action by the party high command with your persistence regarding the defence minister?
Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see. Period.
It is said that your frustration at not having been made a minister is driving you to cock a snook at the BJP leadership.
I am known as a good actor and, I dare say, a good politician. The party has used my talents as a star campaigner to win over voters and their votes. Even those who have voted for other parties tell me that I am the right guy in the wrong party. But I have taken everything in my stride as a loyal party MP. If someone somewhere feels that I have not got my due, I can't help it.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has offered you the chairmanship of the state film corporation, but you declined the perks while accepting the post. Why?
Rajnathji is a dear friend of mine, I couldn't have disappointed him. Regarding the perks, do I look the kind who hankers after these things? Uttar Pradesh and its people are dear to my heart, I will be only too glad to help them in any way I can.
Is it true that some parties are sending you feelers to join them?
I have friends across the political spectrum. But that doesn't mean I am disloyal to my party. You would be surprised the kind of offers I have received not from politicians but even from businessmen who would like me to help them for very large considerations. I have stuck to where I belong.
Which is dearer to you, acting or politics?
Both, in equal measure. The actor in me borrows from the politician and the politician in me borrows from the actor. Acting is my profession while politics is my obsession.
What do you think of the ongoing efforts to forge overall opposition unity?
They are political developments.
Would you contribute to these political developments?
I am contributing to the developments in my own party in a constructive sense.
You have shown a lot of talent for diplomacy as a politician. What do you think of the external affairs portfolio?
I will be grateful to you people in the media if I am given the MEA portfolio.
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