Upset over being ignored by BJP president Nitin Gadkari, actor-turned-MP Shatrughan Sinha on Thursday became the first party leader to publicly criticise the composition of the new team of office bearers, saying it was "new wine in old bottle".
While there have been reports of unease among some leaders, Sinha was forthcoming in an interview to PTI claiming some of the "most deserving" people have been left out in the much-awaited team announced on Tuesday.
The 'Bihari Babu' dubbed Gadkari's team, touted by the party as an effective blend of youth, experience and women, as "new wine in old bottle and, if we include bodies like the party's parliamentary board, old wine in old bottle". Without naming anyone, he said some of those inducted could have been avoided.
For the record, Sinha refuted suggestions that he was a contender for any post. He felt that senior leader and former union minister Yashwant Sinha should have been included with an eye on Bihar assembly elections due in October this year. Yashwant Sinha, a former leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly, has held key portfolios at the centre including those of Finance and External Affairs.
"Bihar assembly polls are most crucial for the party in the near future, yet a leader of the calibre of Yashwant Sinha has been kept out of the team. Some of the people who could have been avoided have been taken at the cost of some of the most deserving people," he said.
"I have always treated Gadkari like a younger brother and friend. Nevertheless, the composition of the new team, personally speaking, is unfortunate and I am quite unhappy."
Sinha claimed that the team was constituted without consulting "people who matter like my friend and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and some other top leaders".
"Being a senior and matured leader, I do not want to break party discipline by making any undesirable comments but I am certainly worried and to a certain extent unhappy with the composition of the team," he said and went on to add that "most partymen are unhappy but there is time and we will wait and watch." Party insiders said Sinha was unhappy over the appointment as general secretary of Ravishankar Prasad, a fellow Bihari and Kayastha casteman.
Sinha, one of the star campaigners for the party in the past several assembly and parliamentary elections, wanted a greater role for himself in the Bihar polls, sources said.PTI