Just two days ahead of the first phase of polling for 11 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, Union Shipping Minister Shatrughan Sinha had a chilling message for the BJP's state leadership — that he could not be held accountable if the NDA's performance in the election fell short of
"As I have not been given any leadership responsibility for the NDA campaign in Bihar, I am free from the burden of delivering results," Sinha told HT on Saturday from Ramgarh (Jharkhand).
His unhappiness with the state of affairs in the Bihar BJP became evident when he failed to turn up at a press conference in Patna. Attended by top party leaders, including I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Patna Lok Sabha nominee C.P. Thakur, it was meant to be a show of unity.
Later, Sinha had something to say about the idea of presenting him at the conference to send a signal to angry Kayasths to rally behind Thakur. "I do not wish to be considered a caste leader of Kayasths," he said. "I am an all-India figure and I am above caste politics."
"I am not even the vice-captain of the party's election team," he complained. "I performed the role of an opening batsman for the BJP's team by addressing the first election meeting in the state. Since then, I have been addressing rallies whenever I have been called upon to do so. But on many occasions, I have been in Patna but not given any poll engagement."
He said the problem with the Bihar BJP was an embarrassingly rich crop of popular leaders. "I have been here for many years, from the time the BJP was still a small party," he said. "Now so many new leaders have suddenly appeared on the horizon at election time. All of them will have to be held accountable for the party's poll performance."
Sinha's parting shot: Too many cooks could spoil the broth.