Varun Gandhi plays communal card - and even BJP taken aback

March 16th, 2009 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Sharat Pradhan
Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), March 16 (IANS) The strident communal overtones of the campaign being run by “the other” Gandhi son, Varun, contesting his maiden Lok Sabha election from this constituency, has left even workers of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shocked.

The 29-year-old son of Maneka and the late Sanjay Gandhi - younger son of former prime minister Indira Gandhi - was Sunday issued a notice by the district authorities in Pilibhit, the constituency so carefully nurtured by his mother who gave up the seat to ensure his easy entry into the Lok Sabha.

That she did so was no surprise for political watchers here. What has come as a shocker is his staunchly pro-Hindu and rabid anti-Muslim vitriolic that his opponents and supporters say could trigger a communal clash.

From taking up issues like the ban on cow slaughter to asking a Sikh leader to leave a Hindu meeting, Varun Gandhi has been ruffling feathers everywhere.

Though just one offensive remark captured by a TV channel drew the attention of the local authorities, the scion of the estranged Gandhi family has been busy making such statements all over Pilibhit.

While “Jai Shri Ram” is his battle-cry at all roadside meetings or assemblies, some of the other slogans being used are “Gau hatya rukwana hai, Varun Gandhi ko jitana hai” (Cow slaughter must stop, Varun Gandhi must win) and “Varun nahin yeh aandhi hai, doosra Sanjay Gandhi hai (Varun Gandhi is like a storm, he is another Sanjay Gandhi)”.

Varun Gandhi has already addressed three ‘Hindu sammellans’. While the district administration has taken cognizance of his utterances at a meet in Barkhera on March 8, those at earlier meetings in Dalchand on March 6 and at Lalori Khera locality on Feb 22 have almost gone unnoticed.

On March 6, he said at the Dalchand meeting: “Agar kissi galat tatv ke aadmi ne, kisi Hindu pe haath uthaya ya hinduon ke upar yeh samajh key ki yeh kamzor hain, unke peeche koi nahi hai… hinduon ke upar haath uthaya, mein geeta ki kasam khake kehta hoon ki mein uss haath ko kaat daaloonga. (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).”

It has left even leaders who are working for his victory flabbergasted.

Naresh Verma, a popular BJP leader in Puranpur - within the constituency - told IANS: “I am a BJP activist and a Hindu too. But I am not in favour of launching a communally charged campaign. If Varun Gandhi persists with such style of campaigning, I would be compelled to keep myself away from it.”

Added another BJP veteran Gurdial Singh: “Varun is going out of hand. If he is not restrained, this election could end in a bloody communal clash.”

The 70-year-old Sikh froom Ramnagar village was even asked to leave one of the Hindu meets being addressed by Varun Gandhi.

“He neither has respect for any other religion nor even for elders. In his arrogance, he has gone to the extent of forgetting that his mother was also a Sikh before her marriage.”

If the BJP is alarmed, other parties are determined to ensure that this stops.

“We have audio-recordings of the provocative language used by Varun Gandhi to run down Muslims,” claimed Haroon Ahmad, a local Samajwadi Party leader.

“We have been restraining our people from retaliating because that will lead to a clash, but how long can we stop people from reacting?” he asked.

Varun Gandhi’s Congress rival V.M. Singh said he was “going to make a detailed complaint in this regard to the Election Commission”.

Asked why he had not done so far, Singh told IANS: “I have been gathering all the evidence against him so far but now I am going to make a written complaint.

“The highly objectionable slang used by Varun in his reference to Muslims could just spark off a violent communal clash here.”

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