BJP distances itself from Varun, waits for poll panel view (Lead)

March 18th, 2009 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Caught in a bind over the incendiary hate Muslim speeches by its Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday distanced himself from the controversy and said it would wait for the Election Commission’s view before initiating action against him.
“The BJP disapproves and dissociates itself from the statements attributed to Mr Varun Gandhi,” said party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“The BJP distances itself,” he said at a press conference here, pointing out that Varun Gandhi had himself raised questions on the authenticity of the CD showing him making inflammatory statements.

Prasad also parried questions about action against him, saying Varun Gandhi would reply to the Election Commission and then “we shall see”.

BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi added in a similar vein: “A complaint has been made to the Election Commission; the ball is in its court, so let us wait for its view.”

An unapologetic Varun Gandhi had earlier in the day stated that he was a proud Hindu and that the CD showing him making the inflammatory speeches was doctored.

Naqvi said: “After Varun’s clarification today, nobody should play a political game over this sensitive issue since it will harm the country’s unity, harmony and brotherhood.”

When told that there was no remorse in Varun Gandhi’s clarification, he said nobody should “act as super Election Commission or super courts”.

Sections of the party, including Shahnawaz Hussain, had Tuesday called for an apology from Varun Gandhi, following wide publicity to his campaign speeches in Pilibhit in which he has allegedly said he would cut the hands of those who attack a Hindu and that Hindus should be on one side while the rest should be sent to Pakistan.

Party insiders said several party leaders were upset and advocating action against him for the “big embarrassment” he had caused.

The party is learnt to have asked the 29-year-old Varun Gandhi to avoid making any public statements.

“Besides, even if the remarks against Muslim was an election strategy, it no longer works,” a senior leader confided.

Key alliance partner Janata Dal-United (JD-U) was in agreement.

Reacting to Gandhi’s hate speeches, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said: “We should respect every community. Either in the elections or even normally one should avoid from saying such things.”

“It should be condemned,” the JD-U leader added.

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