Varun Gandhi unapologetic; BJP looks the other way
Under all-round attack over his anti-Muslim speeches, BJP Lok Sabha candidate Varun Gandhi on Wednesday said the video footage was "doctored" and a "political conspiracy" has been hatched to malign him. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party today said it has dissociated itself from the statements attributed to its Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi. Listen to podcastindia Updated: Mar 18, 2009 17:36 IST
An unfazed Varun Gandhi asserted on Wednesday he was a "Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian" and insisted the CD showing him making inflammatory speeches was doctored despite telltale TV visuals showing that it was he who made them.
His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however said it was "distancing and disassociating" itself with hate comments attributed to the Gandhi scion.
"I am proud of my faith, and am not apologising for it," Varun Gandhi told reporters while reading out a written statement, a day after being slapped with a criminal case for his alleged hate campaign speeches targeting Muslims.
"I am a Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian in equal measure and my attempt was not to spread ill-feeling against any community and I stand by all religion and all faiths," said the 29-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh whose provocative speeches stunned everybody, including his own party.
"I am a victim of a political conspiracy... Those are not my words, that is not my voice. I want to ask the nation to stand by me," said Varun Gandhi addressing the media outside his mother Maneka Gandhi's official 14 Ashoka Road residence.
Calling himself a "proud Hindu", the rookie politician said since the announcement of parliamentary elections, his constituency, vacated by his mother Maneka Gandhi, had been witness to communally provocative incidents and its Hindu residents were "under siege" in their own country.
When the Election Commission on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer (CEO) to file a criminal case against Gandhi, who is educated at the London School of Economics, he had said he would "clarify every single issue" at a press conference in Delhi he would address from a proper party platform.
But instead it was done at the house of his mother, who is a five-time MP from Pilibhit.
Sources said Varun Gandhi apparently decided to hold the press conference at his mother's house after a discussion with BJP president Rajnath Singh.
A commotion began when none of the mediapersons were allowed inside the house. Later, Varun came out along with his secretary and other officials to address the dozens of journalists who collected outside his gate. Varun Gandhi, wearing a green kurta-pyjama and a grey jacket came out, read the statement and refused to take any questions. His mother was conspicuous by her absence.
Later when he invited select correspondents of some TV channels inside, others protested and a free-for-all ensued among journalists. Some even climbed trees and scaled the boundary wall to take a photograph or to get inside the house.
Soon a posse of private security men surrounded the house to ensure no one could get inside. Only his lawyers were allowed in.
Reading out from the statement, Varun Gandhi said: "No action has been taken against thousands and thousands arrested under the National Security Act. Three temples have been vandalised in Pilibhit and several village 'pradhans' (heads) have been threatened.
"Slaughtered remains of cows have been found in several houses in the area and arms have been smuggled to be used against India."
He said his attempt was to restore confidence among the community in Pilibhit "which is under siege in its own country".
Declaring that India was a big country with a big heart, the 'other Gandhi' said the CD was supposed to have been based on a speech given on March 4 but released on March 16.
"Who has made it (CD)? It has been doctored and is a malicious attempt to brand me communal. There is no question of my having differences with any community. Where was the CD for 12 days and why was it released on March 16?" he queried.
After the provocative speeches were aired on television, Varun Gandhi has found himself out in the cold with even the BJP distancing itself from the "speeches attributed to him".
He was booked by police in Uttar Pradesh under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the People's Representative Act for "promoting enmity" and acts "prejudicial to maintenance of harmony".
First Published: Mar 18, 2009 11:35 IST