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EC says Varun guilty; Priyanka flays remark
Published on 24 Mar. 2009 12:55 AM IST
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In a severe indictment of Varun Gandhi, the Election Commission said his communal speeches were an unpardonable act and asked the BJP not to field him as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections. EC sources said it would now ask the UP government to expedite investigation of the criminal case against Varun and the state chief electoral officer to monitor it. In case of delay, EC is likely to approach the Allahabad High Court seeking a ban on Varun contesting the election. Earlier, the BJP had dissociated itself from Varun’s speech which saved the party from an indictment by the poll panel. The EC had asked the BJP not to field Varun as such a move would “be perceived as endorsing his unpardonable acts of inciting violence and creating feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of citizens of India, destroying the social, democratic and plural fabric of the country, as enshrined in the Constitution of India.” However, in complete about turn the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday backed Varun Gandhi as its candidate in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit constituency and said the Election Commission did not have the right to make suggestions on a party’s selection of candidates. “As far as candidature is concerned, I want to say this in clear words that Varun Gandhi will remain our candidate. And we will go for campaigning for him,” said party president Rajnath Singh. “Varun Gandhi was our candidate and will remain so,” spokesperson Balbir Punj asserted, reacting sharply to the Election Commission’s advice not to field Gandhi because of his allegedly inflammatory campaign speeches. The Election Commission had said the “two speeches (by Varun Gandhi) contained highly derogatory references and seriously provocative language of a wholly unacceptable nature against a certain community”. While asserting that there was no question of cancelling Varun Gandhi’s candidature, Punj instead said “Varun Gandhi has not been even chargesheeted while people like Sanjay Dutt, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who have been convicted for various crimes are allowed to contest elections” ‘Disappointed’ Varun takes on EC Hitting out at the Election Commission for its strictures against him, Varun Gandhi said Monday that he was deeply disappointed “over the unseemly haste” shown by the poll panel in passing its opinion over his allegedly hate speeches. He said the EC has not given him a “fair opportunity to appear in person or through counsel” to establish his innocence. Priyanka saddened by Varun vitriol Varun Gandhi’s communally volatile comments were against the traditions that the Gandhi family had “lived and died for”, his estranged cousin Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Monday, and suggested he read the Bhagvad Gita. In comments that once again revealed the deep rift in the Gandhi family - with late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s two widowed daughters-in-law representing two ends of the Indian political spectrum - Priyanka was candid in her criticism of Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory comments while campaigning as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Pilibhit. “Varun’s comments are against the traditions and principles of the (Gandhi) family and he has gone against what the Gandhis have lived and died for... It made me very sad to see him saying those things on TV... What can I say?,” Priyanka told reporters in the Bachrawan Tehsil of Rae Bareli, the constituency of her mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. “I would advise him to read the Gita properly and try to understand it,” said Priyanka, on a two-day tour of the district to campaign for her mother and brother Rahul, who represents Amethi constituency.

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