The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, fully utilised his surrender drama on Saturday to create for himself a larger niche in the Hindutva camp.
Gandhi’s surrender before Chief Judicial Magistrate Bipin Kumar did not pass off peacefully as a strong mob, carrying saffron flags and chanting Jai Sri Ram, fought a pitched battle with the police after he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days, leaving 25 people injured and several government vehicles damaged.
The trouble began when Gandhi’s cavalcade arrived in the court. His supporters raised the slogan – Varun nahi, andhi hai, doosra Sanjay Gandhi hai (He is not Varun. He is a storm and another Sanjay Gandhi). They also tried to forcibly enter the jail. He told the waiting reporters: “I am here to generate a sense of pride and security among my supporters. My only wish is to serve the nation and its people. I am not afraid of going to jail.”
The Uttar Pradesh BJP was present in the court in full strength. BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said, “I am here to monitor the surrender on the direction of the national leadership.”
Although CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury observed, “The big mobilisation, the forcing of a confrontation with the police and rousing passions are clearly the BJP’s campaign strategy”, sources close to Gandhi said he did not expect the BJP to stand by him for long.
So, once he is out on bail, he wants to tour Uttar Pradesh to create his own band of workers. Gandhi thinks he should emerge first as a leader of UP. He also plans to float a hard-line Hindutva front, which will be more radical than the BJP or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The sources said his line of thinking was — “Nothing is given to anyone in politics. You should pitchfork yourself in a spot where nothing can be denied to you and is yours by right.”
Gandhi is also aware that the BJP leaders, including prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, wanted him to contest as an independent, but were convinced by state leaders that the party stood to lose if it did not stand by him.
But ironically, Advani is drawing all the flak for the Varun Gandhi episode. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “Silent Advaniji is completely in tune with what is happening because without his consent this could not have happened.”
Gandhi surrendered in the district and session court as Allahabad High Court earlier rejected his bail application for delivering hate speeches during his poll campaign. Later, Kumar fixed Monday for the next hearing of a fresh bail application moved by Gandhi’s lawyers.