BJP snubs EC, stands by Varun
Following the Election Commission’s suggestion on Sunday that the BJP withdraw him as a candidate from Pilibhit, the BJP has decided to firmly turn it down. Shekhar Iyer reports.india Updated: Mar 24, 2009 01:00 IST
The BJP finally made up its mind on Thursday to back Varun Gandhi.
Ever since the controversy over Varun’s provocative speeches arose, the party had been vacillating, with some members even speaking out against Varun and insisting that his views were his own, not the party’s. But following the Election Commission’s suggestion on Sunday that the BJP withdraw him as a candidate from Pilibhit, the BJP has decided to firmly turn it down.
Top BJP leaders who met at prime ministerial hopeful L.K. Advani house took serious exception to the EC’s suggestion.
“The EC has no right to advise the BJP to debar Varun from contesting,” said general secretary Arun Jaitley. “Instead it should stop candidates with criminal backgrounds from entering the fray.”
The EC’s advisory had maintained that “any sponsorship of his (Varun’s) candidature by the BJP would be perceived as endorsing his unpardonable acts of inciting violence and creating feelings of enmity and hatred.”
“It is not for the EC to decide who should be a party’s candidate and who should not,” Jaitley added. “Not even a chargesheet has been filed against Varun, while there are political parties who have fielded candidates convicted on
charges like terrorism and murder. Has the EC sent similar advisories to them too?”
BJP leaders agreed that Varun’s candidature could be reviewed, if at all, only after the authenticity of the CD had been thoroughly established.
Varun, who has been insisting that the CDs were doctored, tooo expressed his ‘deep disappointment’ at the EC’s response.
“The EC should have examined the authenticity or source of the tape,” he said. “It has passed an opinion in unseemly haste without giving me a fair opportunity to appear in person and establish my innocence.”
“Varun Gandhi remains our candidate,” said BJP president Rajnath Singh. “And we will go campaigning for him.”