NEW DELHI:Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who refused to quit the BJP for years despite a relationship best described as "complicated", has finally decided to join the Congress. His meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday and their photo together confirmed what had been brewing for days. Later, he tweeted that he was "painfully, on the way out of BJP".
Shatrughan Sinha, 72, is likely to contest as the opposition alliance candidate from Bihar's Patna Sahib, his constituency of 10 years. "Painfully....on the way out of BJP....But hopefully in the best direction under the dynamic leadership of my dear friend Lalu Yadav and the desirable, most talked about leader from the Nehru Gandhi family... the true family of nation builders...." he tweeted.
He did not name Rahul Gandhi, who, according to him, had been "very encouraging and positive" during their meeting.
"He praised me saying I had handled attacks and vilification in the BJP with dignity," Shatrughan Sinha told NDTV after the meeting.
"He is younger to me, but today he is a popular leader of the country."
In an association that had been souring for years, the proverbial last straw was the BJP snubbing Shatrughan Sinha and naming a different candidate, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, for his Patna Sahib constituency.
After day of suspense, Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil tweeted that Shatrughan Sinha will join the Congress on April 6.
There were reports that Mr Sinha's big bang admission into the Congress was delayed by the party's tussle with Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) over him. To Shatrughan Sinha, the main focus is to retain his constituency. "I have said...situation kuchh bhi ho, location wahi rahega (whatever the situation, the location will be the same)," said the actor-politician dubbed "shotgun" because of his razor-sharp wit.
Mr Sinha has been openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah and over the past year, his tweet-a-day barbs have been increasingly provocative for the party. In January, he even joined opposition leaders in a mega rally in Kolkata hosted by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
He insisted he had never spoken against the party. "I tried to show the one-man army, two-man show a mirror. They have turned democracy into dictatorship," he said, not naming PM Modi or BJP president Amit Shah, the frequent targets of his jabs.
"Now I am leaving BJP because dictatorship is going on there. So, I have decided to join Congress party for the nation's sake."
Congress leaders predictably used Shatrughan Sinha's famous one word film dialogue to take a swipe at the BJP: "Khamosh" --ndtv