Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit, Saturday clarified he did not favour forced sterilisations after his party distanced itself from his reported remarks on the issue.
"I categorically deny having stated in an interview to Dean Nelson of the Daily Telegraph that I am in favour of forced sterilisation," Varun Gandhi said in a statement issued in New Delhi Saturday evening.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor have I made any mention of reviving any previous sterilisation programme or policy," he said.
Varun Gandhi wants to revive his late father Sanjay Gandhi's controversial population control policies, the London-based newspaper said in a report on Saturday based on an interview with the young leader.
The newspaper, however, has not published a direct quote on Varun Gandhi's reported pledge to revive population control policies that were implemented by Sanjay Gandhi in the 1970s, in many cases by force.
"What I stated and which Dean Nelson of the Daily Telegraph has confirmed is that I said that I was broadly in favour of a sensible family planning programme to be introduced through education, awareness and positive incentives. Nelson has also issued a clarification in this matter," Varun Gandhi pointed out.
However, his party earlier in the day hurriedly distanced itself from the alleged remarks.
"It's his personal view. As far as the BJP is concerned, we promote family planning but not by forceful means. That (forced sterilisation) is not a part of our policy," BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said.
Senior BJP Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad later said at a press conference: "I have not seen the interview. We (BJP) are in favour of family planning, not forced sterilisation."
Varun Gandhi is the party's candidate for the Pilibhit Lok Sabha constituency that goes to polls no Wednesday.
He earlier courted controversy with his hate speeches for which he was jailed by the Uttar Pradesh government.