Media melee at Varun Gandhi’s residenceMarch 18th, 2009 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Since morning, chaos reigned at 14, Ashoka Road, as mediapersons jostled to get a vantage position, even climbing up on trees or perching on the compound wall, to click Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi, who is in the thick of controversy for making allegedly communally charged speeches.
The bungalow, located in the heart of the capital, is the official residence of Varun’s BJP MP mother Maneka Gandhi, a daughter-in-law of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
The entrance gates were shut and guarded by Varun’s private security officials. Such was the rush of journalists Wednesday that news channel camera persons had a tough time securing space outside the gate.
The mediapersons were hoping to get a clear picture of Varun Gandhi when he would appear to read out his statement clarifying his stand.
Varun Gandhi, grandson of former prime minister Indira Gandhi and son of late Sanjay Gandhi, is in the eye of storm over a CD showing him making allegedly inflammatory speeches against Muslims.
Gandhi is fighting the Lok Sabha elections from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, which has been carefully nurtured by his mother Maneka Gandhi.
After the Election Commission Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to file a criminal case against him, Varun said he would address every issue at a press conference in Delhi on the party platform.
But he decided to address the media at his mother’s house instead. This came after he reportedly held a discussion with BJP president Rajnath Singh.
At around noon, Varun finally came out to address the media, but did not step outside the gate. His security personnel had earlier taken the mikes of the news channels and placed them inside.
In his statement, Varun said: “Each time anyone identifies with the Hindu community there is a vigorous attempt to embarrass and brand him communal. I am proud of my faith, not apologetic about it. I am a Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian equally.”
“Nothing I have ever said or done has been identified to incite hatred. I am pro-India not anti-anybody,” he added.
“The CD has been doctored. They have shown me using a derogatory word for Muslim ‘Katwa’ when in fact I said ‘don’t vote for vote katwas meaning non-serious candidates. I will fight for justice and the truth,” he said.
After reading out the statement, he went back inside, refusing to entertain any questions from reporters. Minutes later, his secretaries invited select correspondents of some TV channels inside and it was then that chaos broke out.
The mediapersons left outside started shouting and pushed the entrance gate. In the melee, several cameraman and journalists were manhandled by his private security officials.
Though media persons somehow made their way inside, Varun’s officials pushed everyone out refusing to let them talk to him - leaving many reporters angry.
Varun’s mother, Maneka Gandhi, was not present, but her sister Ambika Shukla was there. She told the journalists to move out.
Seeing the chaos, a Canadian tourist, Joseph, stopped by to inquire what was the matter. When told by the journalists who they were after, he tried calling out to Varun Gandhi and shouted out his name without even knowing who the person is. And before leaving the place, Joseph took in all the details he could of the ‘Gandhi family’.
And due to the commotion, 22-year-old Guddu, who had come to meet Maneka and Varun all the way from Pilibhit, was not able to meet them.
“My business was spoilt by thieves and I came here to seek help. I have not eaten anything since morning and won’t budge from here till someone talks to me,” Guddu told IANS.
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