As the drama in Pilibhit ended, Varun Gandhi appeared to be charting his own course for the future, just as the BJP seemed to think that it must go ahead with the rest of its campaign, focusing on its prime minister hopeful L.K. Advani.
Varun does not expect the BJP to stand by him for long as it was forced to back him in the first place, sources close to him said. So, once out on bail, he wants to tour Uttar Pradesh to create his own band of workers who will see him as one who stands up for Hindus. Varun thinks he should emerge first as the leader of UP before he ventures out of the state. His idea is to have at least a 100-member team in every district in the state.
Varun believes there are many in the BJP who won’t like the idea of his getting prominence. Though he was denied the post
of BJP general secretary on the grounds that he was too young, the sources said, he is looking beyond a party role.
BJP strategists and media managers are worried their carefully crafted slogans and radio and TV campaigns — arguing the party’s case for good governance, development and security — are in jeopardy. They said emotive issues, at best, could ensure Varun’s maiden attempt to win a Lok Sabha seat is a cake walk. “UP has changed so much since the days of the Ayodhya agitation,” said a BJP media manager. “You can’t fool the people with hate speeches. The BJP won’t like to lose the polls for Varun’s sake.”