Gandhi vs Gandhi: Priyanka tells off Varun (Second Lead)

March 23rd, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh), March 23 (IANS) The differences within India’s most famous political family came out in the open Monday when Priyanka Gandhi said her cousin Varun’s communally charged comments were against the traditions the Gandhi family had “lived and died for”.
And then with tongue firmly in cheek, she advised cousin Varun, eight years her junior, to “try to read the Gita properly and understand it”.

In comments that once again revealed the deep rift in the extended Gandhi family — with late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s two widowed daughters-in-law representing two ends of the Indian political spectrum — Priyanka was candid in her criticism of Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory remarks as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Pilibhit. The constituency was previously represented for five terms by his mother Maneka Gandhi.

“Varun’s comments are against the traditions and principles of the (Gandhi) family and he has gone against what the Gandhis have lived and died for… It made me very sad to see him saying those things on TV… What can I say?,” Priyanka told reporters in the Bachrawan Tehsil of Rae Bareli, the constituency of her mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

“I would advise him to read the Gita (the Hindu philosophical scripture) properly and try to understand it,” said Priyanka, on a two-day tour of the district to campaign for her mother and brother Rahul, who represents neighbouring Amethi constituency.

It was a reference to Varun Gandhi’s comments at a meeting in Pilibhit where he allegedly said: “If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the (Bhagvad) Gita that I will cut off that hand.”

In a stinging indictment of his hate-filled speeches, the Election Commission Sunday said: “The two speeches (by Varun Gandhi) contained highly derogatory references and seriously provocative language of a wholly unacceptable nature against a certain community.”

Priyanka, 37, a mother of two, also insisted that she had no political plans as yet. “I am here only to campaign for my mother and my brother and have no plans to contest elections.”

Asked if if she had plans to campaign in other states as well, she said: “No plans as yet. I only come to this place for my mother and brother.”

She also rubbished claims by Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that the central government has neglected the state in terms of developmental activities.

“The state has developed a lot and one should go around the state to have a first hand experience of the developmental activities that have taken place.”

The break between the daughters-in-law Maneka Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi goes back to the time of Indira Gandhi, when she was prime minister in her second term in the 1980s.

Maneka developed differences with her mother-in-law after the death of her husband and Indira Gandhi’s younger son Sanjay - a person who was then seen as her political heir - when a small plane he was piloting crashed in June 1980.

A family showdown led to Maneka being shown the door in February 1982 by Indira Gandhi, which ultimately led to her break away from the Congress party and join the opposition ranks against her powerful mother-in-law who made no bones of her fondness for her elder daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi, the Italian born wife of her elder son Rajiv Gandhi.

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