Meet Yashwant Sinha...A former BJP leader, a staunch Modi critic who is now the Opposition's Presidential candidate!

In the wake of the upcoming Presidential election that is due next month, the shaky opposition has found a consensual ground to win the polls and after shocking twists and turns, the opposition league has on Tuesday - June 21 announced its candidate and appealed to all the parties to vote for its pick. As per the announcement, veteran politician Yashwant Sinha is the Opposition's candidate for the presidential polls. 

Sinha comes with a strong political and administrative background. He was once with the BJP and later turned out to be its staunch critic from Mamata's camp. Born on November 6, 1937, in Patna, Sinha (84) graduated from the University of Patna. In 1958, he completed his Master's in Political Science and taught Political Science at the same varsity from 1958 to 1960. 

From a bureaucrat to a politician:

In 1960, Sinha joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and held several posts during his two-decade tenure. He served as Sub-Divisional Magistrate and District Magistrate for four years. He was Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the Finance Department of the Bihar Government for two years and he also served as Deputy Secretary in the Union Ministry of Commerce.  

In his tenure, Sinha has also served in the Indian mission in Germany and went on to serve a slew of challenging tasks in the Indian government. Sinha retired from the IAS in 1984 and joined active politics as a member of the Janata Party. He was then appointed as Janata Party's All-India General Secretary in 1986 and elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1988. His political graph was on a significant rise and he was becoming a prominent leader. 

When the Janata Dal was formed under the leadership of VP Singh, Sinha was appointed its General Secretary. He served as the Union Minister of Finance in the cabinet of Chandra Shekhar from November 1990 to June 1991. In 1996, he was appointed the National Spokesperson of the BJP and he was again awarded the post of Union Finance Minister in March 1998 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was then appointed as the Union Minister for External Affairs on July 1, 2002. 

Being the Union Finance Minister, he was forced to take back some of the government's major policy initiatives for which he earned criticism. On the other hand, Sinha is widely credited for pushing through several major reforms that put the Indian Economy on a track of firm growth. Some of his reforms include lowering the real interest rates, introducing tax deduction for mortgage interest, helping fund the National Highways Authority, and deregulating the petroleum industry.

Interestingly, Sinha is widely known for being the first Finance Minister to break the 53-year tradition of presenting the Indian Budget at 5 pm local time, a practice that was in place since the British Rule as it was presented at a time convenient to the British Parliament rather than India's Parliament. He was elected to Lok Sabha as a BJP candidate from Hazaribagh three times in 1998, 1999, and 2009. 

His political innings against the BJP: 

With a sound experience in national politics, he resigned from the post of Vice President of the BJP and in 2018, he quit the BJP due to the party's condition and that democracy in India is in great danger. Though he didn't venture into politics immediately, he has turned out to be BJP's strong critic and voiced against the Modi regime over its contentious policies. Three years after quitting the BJP, Sinha has joined Mamata's Trinamool Congress (TMC) on March 13, 2021, ahead of the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls to fight against the BJP. 

On March 15, 2021, Sinha was appointed as the Vice President of TMC and has been playing politics against the BJP.  Sinha has flayed Modi's, PM Cares Fund and doubted its transparency. He expressed a shock when it came to the revelation that the PM Cares Fund won't be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. He also had scathingly reacted against the Centre's economic policies and in responding to him, the BJP has used Sinha's son Jayant Sinha, who has been with the party, to counter his father's allegations against the government. 

Race to Rashtrapati Bhavan: 

Over a year later, Sinha has now become the Presidential candidate of the Opposition parties. The 84-year-old leader has quit the TMC on Tuesday - June 21 to accept the nomination from the Opposition parties to run for the President of India. Sinha took to Twitter and wrote, "I am grateful to Mamatji 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." His tweet has been going viral and it has become evident that he will most likely be the Opposition's presidential candidate. 

Sinha was the fourth candidate that the Opposition has reached out to, after Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, and Gopalkrishna Gandhi. His tweet has come in the morning hours of Tuesday and in the afternoon, the opposition leaders had gathered at Sharad Pawar's residence in Delhi and after hectic meetings, the opposition has finally announced Yashwant Sinha as the presidential candidate. The Congress party has also backed Sinha's candidacy and has appealed to all the political parties to vote for Sinha. 

Congress's Communication Chief Jairam Ramesh said, "In the forthcoming Presidential elections, we have decided to elect a common candidate and stop the Modi government from doing further damage. At a subsequent meeting held today, we have chosen Yashwant Sinha as a common candidate. We appeal to all political parties to vote for Yashwant Sinha." Furthermore, the opposition has appealed to the BJP and its allies to support the candidature of Sinha so that the nation can have a worthy Rashtrapati elected unopposed. 

The MPs and MLAs are eligible to vote for the Presidential polls and the process to elect the nation's highest office holder has begun on June 15. The last date for filing nominations is June 29 and if the polls are necessitated, the voting would be held on July 18. The results would be announced on July 21. On the other hand, the BJP has been in the process of announcing its candidate, showcasing that it won't back Sinha as a common candidate. 

Sinha was honoured by the French Government in 2015 with the highest Fresh civilian distinction of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour). It was conferred to him to recognize his work as Union Minister of Finance, Minister for External Affairs and for his contribution to global issues. Notably, Sinha is the co-author of the book 'India Unmade: How the Modi government broke the economy'. Published in 2018, his book criticizes the economic policies of the BJP-led NDA government.