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Varun remarks 'very unfortunate': PM

delhi Updated: Mar 31, 2009 14:08 IST
IANS
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday termed as "very unfortunate" the hate remarks attributed to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Varun Gandhi.

"If what has been attributed to him is true, then it is very, very unfortunate," Manmohan Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the civil investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.

"He has a distinguished legacy. Right from the time of (India's first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru, his (Nehru-Gandhi) family has devoted their life to the cause of secularism.

"I speak more in sorrow than in anger," the prime minister said, the second time he has commented on the subject.

Varun Gandhi, the 29 year old grandson of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, courted controversy after his reported speeches, which he claims were doctored, in March in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP has named him its candidate for the Lok Sabha elections.

He is reported to have said: "If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, (that) there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the (Bhagvad) Gita that I will cut off that hand."

The Election Commission reprimanded him while the police lodged a criminal case against him for the incendiary remarks.

Varun Gandhi was initially booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of People Act for "promoting enmity" and acts "prejudicial to maintenance of harmony".

The police later booked him for arson and rioting following the violent incidents preceding his arrest in Pilibhit on Saturday.

While Varun Gandhi has been bailed out in the original case, he remains behind bars after the Uttar Pradesh government charged him under the National Security Act (NSA).