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'If not Bihar, where else would I contest from?'

March 20, 2009 04:28 IST

The babu of brinkmanship, Shatrughan Sinha, talks to Aditi Phadnis about his nomination as the BJP candidate from Patna Sahib.

So you've got the constituency you wanted. How do you feel?

Not that I'm thrilled or excited or anything¬Ö but it is enough that I've left the Rajya Sabha and got the blessings of my leaders to contest this seat. I was ready to contest from anywhere -- Delhi, Mumbai, Bihar.

Since I had represented Bihar thrice in the Rajya Sabha, I wanted to be the front door representative of the state, rather than represent it in the Rajya Sabha. I was especially keen to represent Patna. Patna Sahib is a brand new constituency, I am glad I've been given this seat to fight.

Is it a big challenge because it is a new seat?

When they (BJP) asked me, I said Patna Sahib is my first, second and last choice. I'm glad my friend, philosopher and guide Advaniji, Rajnath ji, Kalraj Mishra ji thought of me.

But you are not mentioning Ravishankar Prasad in this galaxy of leaders.

(Laughs) Ravishankar ji is not in this list. These are people who matter, who are leaders. Ravishankar ji is junior to me, he says I am like his elder brother.

I am also grateful to the state unit of the party which endorsed me as its choice. I am referred to as Bihari babu. If I don't contest from Bihar, where else would I fight from? But having said that, I must point out that so many people love me because of who I am. It is said that I used pressure tactics to get the seat. I am not a mercy petition case that I need to use pressure. Whether in my personal, professional or political life, there has never been a black mark on me. No one has ever raised a finger at me.

But you're not particularly active in the Rajya Sabha.

What are you saying? I've asked so many questions, I've intervened, I've also participated in short discussions. When I was the health minister, I was the one who banned advertisements glorifying smoking.

When the issue of declaring assets of Supreme Court judges was being discussed, I was the one who had said that when everyone is declaring assets, so should the judges.

And as a matter of fact, I am compared with other film stars in politics, but there is no comparison. I was the first film personality to openly associate with the BJP, at a time when the party had just two seats in the Lok Sabha. I was deeply influenced by Jayaprakash Narayan and am always more comfortable in the opposition.

Yes, and that is why when you don't get your own way, you threaten to leave the BJP.

I have never come close to leaving the BJP. This is said about me because I have many friends in other parties. For example, Amar Singh is a friend and I called on him on March 18.

Before your party nominated you.

Sunil Dutt was my role model and I have great affection for Sanjay Dutt. I have no dearth of friends. But these are friendships, not political relationships.

If you were given a chance to become a minister again what portfolio would you want?

Jab nau man tel hoga tab Radha nachegi (if wishes were horses, beggars would ride)

And what do you think of Varun Gandhi's speech in his constituency which has the Election Commission after him?

Well, the party has demanded an enquiry, but I think it is totally unwarranted to use the kind of language he has used. You cannot encroach upon anyone's religion. You language has to be moderate.

Whether it is Varun Gandhi or Narendra Modi ?

No matter who it is. Religion is a personal matter, it belongs in the house and in the heart. It is everyone's dharma to respects other religions.

Aditi Phadnis
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