"I'll do a hat trick"
Union External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha is confident he will retain the Hazaribagh Lok Sabha seat for the third time despite dissent against his candidature from senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
In an interview with IANS, Sinha also made it clear he had no desire to step into state politics to become chief minister of Jharkhand.
He said he would not face a tough time in Hazaribagh despite the fact that some BJP leaders were unhappy with him and the opposition parties had united to take him on.
The BJP recently expelled three senior leaders--former MP Mahabir Prasad Viswakarma, KP Sharma and former legislator Shankar Chaudhary--for opposing Sinha's candidature.
"I'm unable to understand why they were against me. Prasad's name did not figure in the BJP list of candidates in the 1998 polls despite the fact that he was the sitting MP. During the same year I was fielded by the party from Hazaribagh," Sinha said.
Asked about his prospects in the polls in view of the United Front put up by the opposition, he said: "There is no threat to my prospect of winning. There are a handful of BJP workers who are unhappy with me and as far as opposition unity is concerned, my victory margin was over 163,000 votes in the 1999 polls, which was one of the highest margins in India".
Sinha asserted he was "not interested in becoming chief minister. I have clarified this so many times. But the media raises this issues again and again."
"I try to do justice to the people of my constituency and to my ministry," he said.
Asked about the opposition's allegation that he was merely a "foundation stone laying" minister, Sinha said: "I admit that three private sector projects did not kick off due to some reasons but the same is not applicable with government projects. On government projects, the work is going on."
When Sinha was finance minister, he laid the foundation stones for two projects by private sector firms Videocon and Himachal Futuristic Communications Limited (HFCL) in January 2002. But the firms have yet to start work on these projects.
"There was a slump in the electronic industry and therefore they did not start the work. Now HFCL has started the work and I will try to get Videocon to start too," he said.
Sinha rubbished media reports that the BJP's tally of Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand would be reduced from 11 to six in the coming general election.
"Wait for the election results. We are again going to sweep," he asserted.