Varun Gandhi jailed, BJP to use him in campaign (Roundup)

March 28th, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Pilibhit/Lucknow, March 28 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Varun Gandhi was sent to jail in Pilibit district of Uttar Pradesh Saturday for his reported hate speeches, but the party maintained he would be deployed in the election campaign according to his capacities.
“He (Varun) is just a party worker and our candidate from Pilibhit and he will be utilised according to his capabilities,” senior party leader Kalraj Mishra, who accompanied Gandhi in Pilibhit, told reporters in state capital Lucknow in the evening.

Mishra was replying to questions if his party saw Gandhi as a new ‘Hindutva poster-boy’ and star campaigner.

Earlier in the day, a Pilibhit court sent Varun to jail until March 30 for his reported hate speeches amid clashes between party workers and the police.

Mishra also reiterated Gandhi’s stance that the CD of his speeches was doctored and said the party condemned this.

On the clashes in Pilibhit, Mishra said: “Besides Hindus, people of the minority community also gathered in support of Varun and the local intelligence and the administration should be blamed for the chaos.”

The party blamed the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Left parties for giving Gandhi’s election speeches a communal angle.

“Everyone knows that except the BJP, all the parties adopt a sectarian posture and it is a conspiracy to malign the secular image of the BJP,” Mishra stated.

It is also an effort to portray the “dynamic” workers of the party in poor light, he added.

The court remand against Gandhi came shortly after he said he was “ready to go to jail” over the allegedly anti-Muslim speeches he denies making but which have ignited a huge controversy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Hundreds of BJP supporters followed the police vehicle in which Gandhi was taken away from the court. Many of them were seen clinging to the vehicle and climbing onto its bonnet, making it difficult for the policemen to drive.

The police then opened fire on the mob that turned violent after the motorcade carrying Gandhi reached the prison gates. Three people were injured in the firing.

Before leaving the court, Gandhi said: “I respect the judiciary and have full faith in it. If my going to jail generates confidence and power in the people of my society to fight for their principles, I am ready for it.”

“I am a victim of a political conspiracy,” added Gandhi, whom the BJP has named as its candidate for the Pilibhit constituency. Earlier, his mother, former central minister Maneka Gandhi, represented the Pilibhit constituency.

Varun Gandhi, earlier Saturday, reached the court complex with a large number of supporters who were shouting slogans hailing him and waving BJP flags.

Initially, the judge told his lawyers that there was no warrant against Gandhi and if he wanted to surrender he should file an affidavit mentioning the sections under which cases have been registered against him.

Clad in a maroon kurta, Gandhi told reporters in Pilibhit, around 350 km from Lucknow: “I will do whatever possible to instil confidence in my people, my community and my country. I will not step back. I am prepared to go to jail to stand by my principles.”

Around 50 BJP workers were arrested here Saturday after they blocked roads and clashed with the police while waiting for Gandhi. They were charged with unlawful assembly.

Security forces were deployed at the Pilibhit border, officials said.

Gandhi courted controversy after he allegedly made communally venomous speeches while seeking votes.

The Election Commission came down heavily on him and suggested that he should not be fielded as a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP refused to do that and questioned the Election Commission’s jurisdiction to suggest that.

On Friday, Gandhi withdrew his bail application from the Delhi High Court and decided to court arrest.

The Election Commission wants criminal charges to be filed against him for his speeches.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal described Gandhi’s surrender and arrest as a “drama”.

“A drama is being enacted by Varun Gandhi. I am sure that (BJP leader L.K.) Advaniji is in tune with it. Without his consent, it would not have happened,” Sibal said.

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