Shunning its 'other Gandhi' candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Tuesday that Varun Gandhi should apologise for his inflammatory anti-Muslim remarks but added that it would consider action after seeing the tapes of his speeches.
"We are of the strong belief that Varun Gandhi should apologise. The BJP dissociates itself from his remarks," Shahnawaz Hussain, the party's spokesperson in parliament, told reporters here. "We are surprised, such kind of things have never been said by anyone in the BJP."
"This (Gandhi's remarks) is not what the party stands for," Hussain, who is also the chief of BJP's minorities wing, asserted.
However, when asked if the party contemplated action against Varun, Hussain said: "The party will take stock of the situation. We would see the tapes (of his speeches) first since he (Varun) has told us they were doctored."
Reacting to Varun Gandhi's remarks, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said this was not the culture of the BJP.
"The BJP believes in prosperity, harmony and unity, and it is the only tool to fight terror," Naqvi told IANS.
He did not refer to Varun Gandhi's Congress family background - he is the son of the late Sanjay Gandhi, late prime minister Indira Gandhi's younger son, and Maneka Gandhi - but said: "It is the Congress culture to divide society on the basis of caste and religion."
Clearly distancing himself from the controversy, Naqvi said it was up to the Election Commission to take action against Varun Gandhi if he had violated the model code of conduct.
The 29-year-old was Sunday issued a notice by the district authorities in Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit, the constituency so carefully nurtured by his mother who gave up the seat to ensure his easy entry into the Lok Sabha.
Varun Gandhi said in Pilibhit Tuesday that the CD containing his speech has been tampered with.