BJP backs Varun Gandhi, lashes out at poll panel (Lead)

March 23rd, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue with Varun Gandhi as its candidate in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit constituency and campaign for him as well, the party stated Monday in defiance of the Election Commission’s diktat.
“As far as candidature is concerned, I want to say this in clear words that Varun Gandhi will remain our candidate. And we will go for campaigning for him,” BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters here, a day after the Election Commission castigated him for his communally inflammatory campaign speeches in Pilibhit.

“Varun Gandhi was our candidate and will remain so,” spokesperson Balbir Punj asserted, reacting sharply to the Election Commission’s advice not to field Gandhi because of his allegedly inflammatory campaign speeches.

“The Election Commission doesn’t have the right to suggest or advice a political party on which candidate to be fielded,” Punj told reporters here.

The Election Commission had said the “two speeches (by Varun Gandhi) contained highly derogatory references and seriously provocative language of a wholly unacceptable nature against a certain community”.

Not sparing the BJP, the order stated: “Any sponsorship of his candidature by the BJP, or any other political party, at this election would be perceived as endorsing his unpardonable acts of inciting violence and creating feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of citizens of India, destroying the social, democratic and plural fabric of the country.”

But the party said there was no question of cancelling Varun Gandhi’s candidature.

BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said suggesting who a political party should give ticket to or not was not in the “area of influence of Election Commission”.

“In Varun’s case, even a chargesheet has not been filed… while there are political parties who have fielded candidates convicted under charges of terrorism and murder. Will the Election Commission send such an advisory to them also?” Jaitley asked.

However, party leaders, including Rajnath Singh, refused to comment on Priyanka Gandhi’s statement that her cousin Varun’s statements went against the traditions and principles of the Gandhi family and that he should read the Bhagvad Gita.

“This country is bigger than their family and this party platform must not be used to settle family issues,” said Jaitley.

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