BJP president Amit Shah's decision to drop Varun Gandhi from his new team announced on Saturday was apparently taken to reinforce discipline among party members, especially young leaders.
Varun, who was made BJP's youngest general secretary last March, has courted controversy several times in the past with his comments. However, the decision to drop him from the team was reportedly triggered by a comment from his mother Maneka Gandhi, also a Union minister in the Narendra Modi government.
Maneka had pitched for her son as a probable chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh in a public meeting in July, something she later denied. But it did not go down well with the party leadership.
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According to sources, Shah drove down to her residence to tell her that she should speak on such a matter only after the party takes a call on it.
During the Lok Sabha election campaign, a newspaper quoted Varun as saying that Modi's rally at Kolkata was "okay" and estimated a turnout of about 50,000 people, although the party said more than two lakh people had attended it. Varun later tweeted calling the newspaper report an act of mischief.
Sources said Shah's decision to sack the two-time MP is "temporary" and is only meant to be a signal of the leadership's seriousness in enforcing discipline and projecting a united face. A senior leader said the party had "some plans" for Varun and would finalise his "new" role and responsibility focussed on the 2017 UP assembly elections.
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"Several senior BJP leaders called up Varun and told him not to lose heart as there could be some better things in store," said a leader. "He would be asked to concentrate on UP. But in keeping with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh way of functioning, any new role would come with a rider. Politics is all about conveying subtle messages and Saturday's message was loud."
Another leader said the sacking, although temporary, "isn't without reason. There is a message in it".
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