“Like Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata, Varun (Gandhi) is trapped in a chakravyuh,” Maneka Gandhi said shortly after her son surrendered to the police in Pilibhit.
Quite rightly. Considering the deep waters Maneka and Varun find themselves in after working hard for years to win over Pilibhit as their own, much like the Gandhis of 10, Janpath have done with Amethi and Rae Bareli.
Varun’s mama (maternal uncle) V.M. Singh was launched by Maneka in Pilibhit 20 years ago. Today he is contesting on a Congress ticket and has severed all ties with Maneka and Varun. Riyaz Ahmed was a founder member of Maneka’s political outfit Sanjay Vichar Manch. He is a Samajwadi candidate now. Buddhasen Verma had once won the Zila Panchayat election with Maneka’s help. He has gone over to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
All these leaders have fallen out with the Gandhis and are individually plotting Varun’s downfall in Pilibhit.
“No doubt Varun is my blood relative. But in the political battlefield, there is no place for emotions or relations,” V.M. Singh, an alumnus of Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, told the Hindustan Times. “Maneka launched me in Pilibhit. I stood beside her through the bad days and the good days. Then differences crept up and I have not met Maneka or Varun in 15 years.” Singh won the Vidhan Sabha election in 1993 from Puranpur in Pilibhit district. “What Varun said in Pilibhit is against our family values. He must have inherited it from the RSS and BJP.” Singh is campaigning hard and asking the farmers, among whom he is popular, to bulldoze the communal wall and join hands for his victory.
Across the Khakra river that flows through the Pilibhit town, Ahmed is busy discussing strategies the to defeat Varun in a hall at the Law College. Along with a master’s degree in commerce, Ahmed is also a law graduate and a director of the Law College. In his speech at Barkhera on March 8, Varun had compared Ahmed to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
“Once I was a close confidant of Maneka. She, Akbar Aqhmed Dumpi and I launched the Sanjay Vichar Manch. I quit and joined SP after a row with Maneka,” Ahmed said. “Varun is in a chakravyuh woven together by the BJP and BSP. Both Hindu and Muslim votes will help me defeat him,” he said.
The BSP candidate, Verma, said Maneka was his leader in the BJP. “Now I am with Behanji (Mayawati) and my army (supporters) is ready to defeat Gandhis in this political battle,” he said.