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UP elections 2017: Four reasons why BJP’s Varun Gandhi is missing in action

assembly elections Updated: Feb 23, 2017 12:47 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Varun Gandhi,Sultanpur,Uttar Pradesh

BJP’s Varun Gandhi addresses a rally in West Bengal’s Siliguri. (File photo)

Sultanpur member of Parliament Varun Gandhi is missing from the BJP’s list of star campaigners for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, pointing to the growing gulf between the party and the young leader.

Gandhi, a cousin of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, didn’t figure in the first list of campaigners the party put out. Same for the second phase. He made a comeback for the third phase but didn’t campaign.

His name was not there for the fourth or the next phase even as Sultanpur, which has five assembly seats, votes on February 27, the fifth round of polling.

The rift between the 36-year-old MP and his party has been widening, though his mother, Maneka, is the minister for women and child development in the Modi cabinet.

Four reasons why Gandhi and his party are not on the same page:

1. Varun Gandhi is a two-time MP. He was seen as a potential chief ministerial candidate but found no place in party president Amit Shah’s scheme of things. Shah sidelined him and Gandhi got himself busy in non-party activities -- delivering lectures and writing newspaper columns.

2. Many of Gandhi’s loyalists were denied ticket by Shah. Some have switched parties to contest the election. His rivals got a bigger say in ticket distribution and are in the fray as BJP candidates from Gandhi’s turf.

3. Shah dealt Gandhi the first blow when he dropped him as the national general secretary in the 2014 party reshuffle. While the party took back from him the responsibility of all the state units he was in charge of, it didn’t even give him a role in Uttar Pradesh. The party was upset with him for speaking out of turn and lack of “organisational discipline”.

4. The relations between Gandhi and party strained further when in October a middleman man claimed that an arms dealer had honeytrapped him into revealing defence secrets, a charge vehemently denied by the MP. The BJP did not defend him. Gandhi loyalists claimed it was a “hit job” by party seniors to end his political career.


First Published: Feb 23, 2017 11:53 IST