Facing the daunting task of taking on a three-time sitting MLA, Congress candidate from Bihar’s Bankipur Luv Sinha on Sunday said he has decided to fight an “uphill battle” on his political debut by challenging the BJP in its bastion in order to prove his mettle.
The son of Bollywood superstar and former Union minister Shatrughan Sinha, Luv Sinha also said he is not contesting from the Bankipur assembly seat that falls in the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha segment to avenge his father’s defeat from there in the 2019 general elections. He asserted that he was fighting for the welfare of the people of Patna.
An actor-turned-politician like his father, he told PTI in an interview that the BJP was a changed party post-2014 and alleged that there were not many intra-party discussions now but only “orders” were given.
Asked why he chose the Congress for his poll debut when he could have opted for a party like the RJD which has a wider presence in Bihar, the 37-year-old said, “It is not just me choosing the Congress, it is also the Congress choosing me”.
“The Congress noted the work I had done even when my father was part of BJP. I have worked here with my father since 2009. I am sure the party noticed my work in the previous elections and that is why they considered me for this ticket,” he said.
He further said “as far as strong or weak (party) is concerned, I would like to say that my father started with the BJP when it had two seats in Parliament. It is only a matter of time, who is strong can become weak and who is weak can become strong”.
Acknowledging that he was contesting from a “BJP bastion”, Sinha asked whether that should deter him from a fight. “I believe fighting an uphill battle tests your mettle and proves to the world what you are really capable of. A win or loss is not in my hands anyway,” he said.
“It is a BJP bastion, they have all the money power and organisational power in the world right now. Does that mean you don’t contest? No, it means you contest and do your best. The public will decide and we will have to accept their decision,” he said.
At the same time, however, Sinha said he feels there is an anti-incumbency factor against the sitting MLA Nitin Nabin, alleging that the BJP candidate had got the seat in ‘Viraasat’ (inheritance) as his father was also an MLA from Bankipur.
Dismissing speculation that he too got a ticket due to his father, Sinha said if it was about nepotism he would have chosen the Lok Sabha polls instead of the Assembly elections.
He said his father was part of the BJP that existed before 2014, which he claimed was very different from the way the party functioned now. “That is my understanding that there is almost no discussion, only orders are given in the BJP now,” Sinha alleged.
“My issues are never about individuals, they are about policies…the economy has crashed due to the decisions taken by the ruling party such as demonetisation and GST…no one could understand how the GST was implemented,” he alleged.
Sinha said the common man’s issues such as unemployment, shortage of electricity, paucity of quality educational institutions etc. will be his main poll plank.
On COVID, the young Congress leader said the pandemic would have been difficult to tackle no matter which party was in power but the type of decisions that were taken were completely “unsympathetic” to people.
“The way our migrant workers were left and when you ask the government to provide data on the number of migrants who passed away, the answer you get is ‘we do not have data’, that in my opinion is extremely saddening. That should not happen,” he said.
Asked about the advice his father gave him before he joined politics, Sinha said his decision to enter the poll fray involved many factors.
“The party chose me. I had been working towards it without expectations. What I have learnt watching him (Shatrughan) throughout his political career (is that) he has friends across party lines. He believes it is a fight about issues, not a fight about an individual versus you. I personally agree with that,” he said.
The views of the person you are contesting against may be different, but that does not make him your enemy, he said. Asked if a Bollywood background is a boon or bane in politics, he said a lot of people criticize it and make it look like something bad.
“First of all people should realise what Mr (Shatrughan) Sinha was before he entered Bollywood. He was a Bihari man, who in his childhood could not get a cycle because his father could not afford it,” he said.
Luv Sinha, who debuted in a movie called ‘Sadiyaan’ and also starred in J P Dutta’s ‘Paltan’, said Shatrughan Sinha is a self-made man and he has never asked his father for help in getting work in the industry.
“When people say my career is unsuccessful, I feel like telling them failure is when industry throws you out. Nobody from industry has ever asked me to leave and whatever films I have got, I got without my father calling anyone and that is how our family functions. We don’t believe in using whatever he has achieved to further our own agenda or careers,” he asserted.
Bankipur is a part of the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency and is considered a BJP stronghold. The parliamentary seat had twice elected Shatrughan in 2009 and 2014 but as a BJP member. In the 2019 elections, Shatrughan, 74, contested as a Congress candidate and lost the seat to BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad.