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What a way to start a career in politics

india Updated: Mar 19, 2009 01:20 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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Is the CD of Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory speeches doctored as he claims? The explanations he has himself been giving do not support this.

Take, for instance, the clip which has him saying: Agar koi Hindu ke khilaf ungali uthaiga, ya sochega ki Hindu kamzor hai…. to main Gita ki kasam khata hoon main unke haat kaat doonga (if anybody raises his finger against Hindus or think that Hindu is weak, then I swear by Gita I will cut his hand).

Varun’s explanation, “In the instance where I mentioned the Gita, I swore to protect Hindus against any galat tatv or bad elements. This was in the context of two Hindu girls having been recently raped in the village.”

The point is that Varun is not denying he made the speech, or that any portion of it is distorted. He has even added that following these incidents of rape — and also of arms smuggling in this border district of Pilibhit from where he is fighting the coming election — it was necessary “to instill confidence in a badly scarred and shaken community”.

The only statement he is heard making in the CDs that he has subsequently denied outright is that of having a seven-year-old kid cousin. It is no surprise that the Election Commission has held him guilty of violating the model code of conduct before polls and sent him a showcause notice.

What is a surprise is that Varun of all people should be caught in this kind of controversy. This is no RSS ideologue or Bajrang Dal lumpen letting his true feelings show. Unlike most leading BJP members, Varun has had nothing to do with the RSS beyond attending a few of their meetings.

Indeed sources close to him claim that far from being communal minded, his commitment to the BJP itself was for long suspect. When denied a Lok Sabha ticket for the Vidisha by-election in Madhya Pradesh two years back — chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan just didn’t want him and managed to have his way — Varun had seriously contemplated quitting the BJP and joining the Congress.

With this background, what prompted the great grandson of India’s first prime minister and uncompromisingly secular leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, to say the things he did? Did he think by being more Hindu than even the BJP wanted him to be, he would quickly make a mark? That he could position himself as GenNext’s Narendra Modi?