It is 1.30pm on Monday, two days before campaigning ends. Elections are on April 17. BJP’s Patna Saheb candidate and Bihar’s biggest export to Bollywood, Shatrughan Sinha, is sitting on the seventh floor of the city’s elite Maurya Hotel. His wife, Poonam, has been out campaigning since morning, but Sinha appears to have had a late start to the day. The previous evening, he attended a party at friend, and rival in the 2009 poll, Shekhar Suman’s house.
The man who likes calling himself a “gentleman politician” faces a tough contest this time, primarily because rivals have projected him as a gentleman-at-large — a nice man and popular star, but one who does little for his constituency, is inaccessible and barely visits Patna.
Sinha scoffs at the criticism: “In 2009, they said I would not come to Patna. But I come at least four times a month. I have an office here. Bring me one person whose work has got stalled because of me.”
He projects himself as different from other stars. “I joined the BJP when they had two seats. Not for power, but because of ideology and their leaders. Don’t doubt my commitment.”
Sinha, however, knows that the big plus this time is the man he calls the “dabang, action superhero”, Narendra Modi. His aides, sitting in the next room, are even more candid. One of them whispers: “He will make it but, without Modi, it would have been difficult.”
Questions fly. Was he unhappy about Modi being declared the PM candidate? “I was the first to say he will be our candidate, and was supported by Yashwant Sinha. I coined the term ‘Namo’.”
But he looks disturbed when asked about the treatment meted to senior leaders — Advani’s ticket controversy, Murali Manohar Joshi’s shift to Kanpur, Jaswant Singh’s expulsion. “I am sad about what has happened...but I should not say anything more than this.”