Is Varun BJP’s New Hindutva hero?
Bharatiya Janata Partyon Monday rejected the Election Commission’s advice to it not to nominate Varun Gandhi as candidate in the Lok Sabha elections and declared that he would be the party candidate in Pilibhit. “He (Varun) is our candidate. We have turned down the advice (by the EC) be- cause it is does not not have the right to give such an advise,” party spokesman Balbir Punj told media persons after meeting Varun. He said he was speaking as the authorized spokesman of the party and this was the view of the party leaders after consultations among them.
In an unprecedented action, the Election Commission on Sunday night asked the BJP not to nominate Varun as its candidate in the Lok Sabha elections after holding him guilty of making communal speeches. Varun Gandhi does not deserve to be a candidate at the present general elections?’ the three-member Commission advised the BJP. Punj said in a democracy, it was the right of political parties to decide on who their candidates will be and it was not for the Commission to say that.
The BJP would not accept the Election Commission’s advice, he said adding it was the collective decision of the party leaders. Punj also questioned the Election Commission’s authority to advice against nominating Varun. “The entire episode smacks of prejudice and bias,” he said. “If the Election Commission is so con cerned, then it should be forthright in giving the same suggestion in the case of Sanjay Dutt, M K Subba, Shibu Soren, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler,” he said.
The BJP spokesperson also sought to question the competency of the Commission in deciding the veracity of the compact disc containing anti-Muslim speeches allegedly made by Varun. “Where is the original CD? The Election Commission has no right to give such ad- vice. It should refer the matter to an independent investigation agency,” Punj said.
Whether or not Varun will be able to fight the elections will depend on the judiciary. The hate speech that has given rise to this controversy in the India’s electoral battle, was allegedly delivered during rallies in Pilibhit constituency of Uttar Pradesh. While cousins Priyanka and Rahul have joined the issue, criticizing the youngest Gandhi for his speech, Varun says that the CD was doctored.
“If you ask me, I would say yes, it was a rousing speech, a strong speech. May be I should not have been so aggressive; may be, I should not have used the words which I did. However, certain expressions attributed to me have been distorted from what I spoke and one of the two CDs containing my speech has been doctored,” he said
“What people should realize is that I was speaking at a village where four girls had been raped. When I spoke, I wanted to instill confidence among victims, I wanted to offer hope to the hopeless. I don’t care about a warrant (for arrest) but what bothers me is that I should not be hurting anyone and, believe me, my intent was not to hurt anybody,” Varun said. “You must appreciate the fact that in my area, there has been persecution of Hindus in a particular belt. There have been 11 cases of rape in the last one year. People have been thrashed and threatened. There has been communal tension in this belt for one year. While I don’t want to cement it (tension), I cannot wish it away either.”
“My mother (Menaka Gandhi) has been elected to Lok Sabha from Pilibhit in seven consecutive elections, but the constituency has never witnessed a communal riot, not even in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement phase. But during the last one year, things have been different. Many of our people, including former minister Ram Saran Verma, have been arrested under the National Security Act,” he said.
– OE News Bureau