Varun Gandhi says CD doctored, BJP distances itself (Roundup)

March 18th, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Under fire from his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for making alleged anti-Muslim speeches, an unfazed Varun Gandhi asserted Wednesday he was a “Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian” and insisted that the CD showing him making inflammatory speeches was doctored despite telltale TV visuals showing that it was he who made them.
“I am proud of my faith, and am not apologising for it,” Varun Gandhi told reporters here while reading out a written statement, a day after being slapped with a criminal case for his alleged hate campaign speeches targeting Muslims.

“I am a Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian in equal measure and my attempt was not to spread ill-feeling against any community and I stand by all religion and all faiths,” said the 29-year-old BJP candidate from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh whose provocative speeches have stunned everybody, including his own party.

Varun Gandhi’s speeches is the latest controversy the BJP has been embroiled in - and one which it may find difficult to wriggle out of. Party leaders are already attempting to bring about a truce between party president Rajnath Singh and its key strategist Arun Jaitley. Their spat over the appointment of Sudhanshu Mital in a key campaign post has already affected the party’s poll preparations.

The party said it was “distancing and disassociating” itself from the hate comments attributed to the ‘other’ Gandhi scion.

“The BJP disapproves and dissociates itself from the statements attributed to Shri Varun Gandhi,” said party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Prasad 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.”

Even the party’s ally, Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United, said action should be taken against Varun Gandhi if he had indeed made the incendiary hate-Muslim speeches.

“I am sure the BJP will take action against him if he is guilty,” said Kumar.

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 off 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 were advocating action against Varun Gandhi for the “big embarrassment” he had caused.

The Election Commission which has yet to scrutinise the video clips, also swung into action, ordering that all of Varun Gandhi’s election rallies be strictly monitored.

“The Commission orders video tracking of all visits, rallies, functions of Varun Gandhi. The state Chief Electoral Officer will depute a video camera person with an officer all the time with adequate security,” it said in its communique.

The rookie politician continued to protest his innocence maintaining that he was a victim of a political conspiracy.

“Those are not my words, that is not my voice. I want to ask the nation to stand by me,” said Varun Gandhi addressing the media outside his mother Maneka Gandhi’s official 14, Ashoka Road residence. Only his personal staff were around him and party officials were conspicuous by their absence.

Declaring that India was a big country with a big heart, the ‘other Gandhi’ said the CD was supposed to have been based on a speech given on March 4 but released on March 16.

“Who has made it (CD)? It has been doctored and is a malicious attempt to brand me communal. There is no question of my having differences with any community. Where was the CD for 11 days and why was it released on March 16?” he queried.

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