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Varun Gandhi on Tuesday hit back at his cousin Priyanka Gandhi, suggesting that she crossed the "lakshman rekha of decency" with her remarks that he has gone "astray" and said that his "decency and large-heartedness" should not be construed as a weakness by anyone.
In a statement, the 34-year-old BJP leader said, "In the past decade, whether it has been a member of my family or a senior leader of any political party, I have never crossed the lakshman rekha of decency in my speeches....
"There has been talk of my path. I have always considered the nation's path as more important than my own. In my lifetime, if I am able to constructively contribute towards nation-building, I would consider my life meaningful."
Priyanka, 42, had attacked Varun in her speech in Amethi last week and suggested that he should be defeated and shown the right path.
"He is definitely from my family, he is my brother. But he has gone astray. When a young one in the family chooses the wrong path, then the elders show them the right path, the right way. I urge all of you to show my brother the right path," she had said.
Her remarks had invited immediate response from Varun's mother Maneka Gandhi who had said, "If he has gone astray while serving the country, the country will decide."
Varun, who filed his nomination papers from here as a BJP candidate, said, "We should debate unemployment, corruption, poverty and illiteracy instead of making personal attacks.
"Let us try to raise the level of discourse rather than lowering it. When we practise politics centered on personal criticism, we deviate from the crucial issues of our time. If India has to move towards politics of hope, we will have to raise the level of debate," he said.
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Watch: Varun Gandhi hits back at cousin Priyanka Vadra after filing nomination