From the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) to the Janata Party, then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and then slipping into oblivion — Yashwant Sinha’s professional career has been a roller-coaster ride. As a long-time member of the BJP, Sinha served in several ministries but finance was known to be his forte.
Before becoming the Union finance minister in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA’s) first full term government, which took office in 1998, Sinha had held that portfolio in Chandra Shekhar's Cabinet as well (from November 1990 to June 1991). Later, he was the finance minister in the first three years of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998 to 2002).
Among changes to his credit as finance minister is breaking the colonial-era tradition of presenting Union Budgets in evenings. Sinha’s 1998-99 Budget was the first to have been presented in the morning, a practice that has been followed since. He is also credited with boosting the funding of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) through a petroleum cess. That helped push the construction of highways across India, and kick-start the ambitious Golden Quadrilateral project. During his tenure as finance minister, he deregularised the petroleum industry and helped the telecom industry expand. He was written extensively about his stint as the finance ministry in his book Confessions of a Swadeshi Reformer.
An ardent critic of Narendra Modi and his government's policies, Sinha quit the BJP on April 21, 2018.
Yashwant Sinha had joined active politics as a member of the Janata Party after resigning from the IAS in 1984. He had been appointed the party’s all-India general secretary in 1986 and was elected a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1988. When the Janata Dal was formed in 1989, Sinha, a founding member, was appointed the party’s general secretary. He later joined the BJP and held important portfolios in the Vajpayee government.