The Uttar Pradesh government slapped the National Security Act (NSA) on the BJP’s Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi on Sunday for the inflammatory speeches he allegedly made during his campaign in the district in early March.
Varun, who surrendered before the district court on Saturday, is already lodged at the Pilibhit district jail. With the NSA invoked against him, the chances of his obtaining early bail vanished.
“Varun Gandhi has been charged under section three of the NSA,” said V.S.Pandey, principal secretary (information) at a hurriedly called press conference on Sunday night. Apart from his speeches on March 7 and 8 in Pilibhit, he is also charged with delivering another provocative speech outside the court before he surrendered, as well for inciting his supporters to attack the police.
Earlier in the day the district administration also lodged fresh FIRs against Varun, Kalraj Mishra, BJP leader in charge of UP, who had accompanied Varun to the court and their supporters for attacking the police and obstructing their functioning on Saturday.
“It is a political conspiracy against Varun,” said his mother Maneka Gandhi, who visited him in jail. “My son is not a criminal.”
Jail Superintendent Mukesh Arora said Varun was not being given any special privileges. “He occupies an eight feet by six feet cell like most of the other prisoners,” he said. He has, however, been allowed newspapers, as well as special meals
brought to him by a local BJP worker. There is no TV set in his cell, but it does have a fan.
“Varun seemed cheerful when I met him in the morning,” Arora added.
The BJP and its allied organisations are clearly exulting at the arrest. Scores of activists and sympathizers from their local units streamed to the jail to meet Varun through the morning. Elderly RSS volunteers in khaki shorts, straight from their morning shakha, alighting from a Tavera, youngsters riding pillion, eight on a single motorbike and scores of others were seen.
“Varun is talking about the welfare of Hindus and the RSS supports him totally,” said khaki shorts clad Nempal. “He is a rising star of Hindutva.”
“Varun may be only 29 years old while we are in our fifties,” said former BJP MLA from Pilibhit B.K. Gupta. “But he has become an inspiration for all of us.”
“The arrest of Varun has galvanized our workers,” roared Sukhlal, BJP MLA from Barkheda, the assembly segment within which Varun allegedly made his first controversial speech. Addressing a large crowd of BJP workers, a short distance from the jail, he declared: “The lotus will bloom in Pilibhit and its adjoining constituencies now.”