BJP backs Varun for Pilibhit as he gets anticipatory bail (Second Lead)

March 20th, 2009 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday backed Varun Gandhi’s candidature for Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh as he told the Election Commission that his election speeches that have triggered a furore for their alleged hate content were not intended to spark communal ill-will.
Varun Gandhi also got anticipatory bail from the Delhi High Court till March 27 in the criminal case filed against him on the directions of the Election Commission over the speeches.

Replying to the poll panel notice, his lawyers argued that the tapes of the alleged hate-Muslim speeches had been tampered with.

The BJP, while declaring Varun Gandhi to be their candidate for Pilibhit, also urged the poll panel to take back the notice served on the party over the speeches.

“Varun Gandhi is our candidate from Pilibhit. He is the declared candidate of the party,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar amid speculation that the party had distanced itself from the young candidate.

Asking the poll panel to take back the notice, the BJP said: “Even assuming that a speech has been delivered by a member of the party, these contents do not represent the views of the party or its policies,” the BJP said in a letter to the commission.

“Merely because a member of the party has expressed views contrary to what the party stands for, the party cannot be vested with any responsibility.

“In view of the categorical position taken by the BJP before the issuance of the notice (by the poll panel) and in reply to the notice, we request the Election Commission to discharge the notice.”

The Congress party reacted sharply to the BJP keeping Varun Gandhi as its candidate for Pilibhit. Party spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said it was surprising that the BJP had not withdrawn his candidature.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court gave Varun Gandhi anticipatory bail till March 27.

Justice Reva Khetrapal granted anticipatory bail after lawyers argued that the provision for anticipatory bail wasn’t available in Uttar Pradesh. Varun Gandhi was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs.50,000.

Appearing for the Gandhi scion, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra said his client feared arrest in Delhi and had come to the high court.

The court also issued notices to both the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments on Varun Gandhi’s plea and listed the matter for further hearing on the question of jurisdiction on March 27.

Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami had already made it clear that the onus of proving that the video CD was doctored rests with Varun Gandhi himself.

“We have seen the videos. It is for Varun to prove that it has been tampered with. The question of disqualification arises only when nomination starts,” Gopalaswami said Thursday in Kolkata where he is overseeing poll arrangements.

The ‘other’ Gandhi, the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi, has been in the eye of a storm since the emergence of a CD showing him making a number of communally inflammatory speeches.

A first information report (FIR) against him was filed at Barkheda Police Station in Pilibhit under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act.

The grandson of late prime minister Indira Gandhi has alleged that he was part of a conspiracy to spoil his political career and tarnish his secular image. He is planning to make his electoral debut this year.

“Who has made it (CD)? It has been doctored and is a malicious attempt to brand me communal. There is no question of my having differences with any community. Where was the CD for 12 days and why was it released on March 16?” he asked Tuesday while talking to reporters.

The Election Commission slapped notices on Varun Gandhi and the BJP on the grounds that his alleged anti-Muslim speeches amounted to violation of the model code of conduct and sought their response by Friday. The poll panel also ordered video tracking of his entire campaign.

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