Will Serve People Of Pilibhit Throughout My Life, Says Varun Gandhi After Being Denied Ticket - Vibes Of India

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Will Serve People Of Pilibhit Throughout My Life, Says Varun Gandhi After Being Denied Ticket

| Updated: March 30, 2024 12:06

Days after being denied a ticket for the coming Lok Sabha elections, 43-year-old BJP MP Varun Gandhi released an emotional letter to Pilibhit seat voters, which he won in 2019. In the letter, he penned about his first visit to the constituency in 1983 as “a three-year-old child… holding my mother’s hand”, and ended with a promise, “not as an MP but as a son”, to serve it “all my life”. 

“I consider myself fortunate that I got the opportunity to serve the great people of Pilibhit for years,” he added. “Even though my tenure as an MP is coming to an end,” Gandhi wrote, “my relationship with Pilibhit cannot end till my last breath.” “If not as an MP, then as a son, I am committed to serve you throughout my life and my doors will always remain open for you as before.” 

In his letter Varun made no mention of the BJP or Jitin Prasada, the candidate who replaced him. There has been no word from the party also on why Varun has stayed out. However, his mother Maneka Gandhi has been repeated from Sultanpur, though both have been out of the party leadership’s good books for some time. One of the longest-serving parliamentarians currently, with eight Lok Sabha wins, Maneka did not find a place in the Narendra Modi-II ministry. 

There were voices from the Congress inviting Varun to cross over to the party of the Nehru-Gandhis – but not from the family itself. In light of their silence, it matters little that Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress’s leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha, went public saying Varun should join the Congress. 

The incident that would change the trajectory of Varun’s life happened just three months into his birth, on June 23, 1980, when his father Sanjay Gandhi died when a plane he was flying crashed. Sanjay Gandhi had been tipped to be the political heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, encouraged by a doting Indira Gandhi, then the Prime Minister. When a bereft Indira turned to a reluctant Rajiv Gandhi, it started a rift that has now lasted four decades. 

Maneka, who saw her own political ambitions as being thwarted, left her in-laws’ home with Varun. In 1984, she decided to take on Rajiv from the family bastion of Amethi, once represented by Sanjay. Rajiv deployed his wife Sonia to campaign for him. 

Again, fate intervened when Indira was killed before the polls. In the sympathy wave that swept the country, the Congress won by what remains the biggest-ever majority in Parliament, and Maneka lost to Rajiv – badly. 

Varun grew up against this backdrop, of enjoying the name but not the power of the country’s No. 1 political family. Amethi, meanwhile, passed on from Rajiv to Sonia to Rahul, before BJP leader Smriti Irani defeated him from there in 2019. 

Having cut off ties with the Gandhi family, Maneka drifted slowly towards the BJP. When Varun was 24, she formally joined the party, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the time. The BJP was happy about getting a Nehru-Gandhi of their own. And Varun seemed happier pursuing other passions such as writing, penning in 2000 a collection of poems called The Otherness of Self. 

In 2009, the BJP fielded Varun from Pilibhit. The poet-politician showed a hearty appetite for politics, running what was seen as an openly anti-Muslim campaign. 

He was quoted as saying at an election rally: “If anyone raises a finger towards Hindus or if someone thinks that Hindus are weak and leaderless, if someone thinks that these leaders lick our boots for votes, if anyone raises a finger towards Hindus, then I swear on Gita that I will cut that hand.” 

Mukhtar Abbas Naqbi snubbed Varun, the Election Commission said it would look into the matter, and the BSP government in the state held him under the NSA, Varun claimed that videos of his speeches had been “doctored” to malign him. (In 2013, he would be acquitted in two cases charging him with “hate speech”, after witnesses turned hostile.) 

While he faced legal troubles, it also boosted the 29-year-old’s profile. In his constituency, he was greeted with slogans of “Varun nahin ye aandhi hai, doosra Sanjay Gandhi hai (He isn’t Varun, he is a storm; he is the second Sanjay Gandhi)”. 

Varun again proved a fast learner, and soon after the 2009 polls, changed his political tune from hard Hindutva to talk about development and poverty. His solo rallies in Uttar Pradesh continued to draw crowds, even when the BJP was still struggling in the state, generating a buzz that Varun was positioning himself as the party’s face in UP. 

In 2023, asked during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, whose underlying theme was unity and love, whether there would be reconciliation with Varun, Rahul said: “My ideology does not match with his ideology. I can never go to a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh office. For that to happen, you will have to first slit my throat… I can meet him with love, hug him, but I cannot accept that ideology.” 

Sonia, who never patched up with Maneka, is also seen as unlikely to push for the cousins to come together – leaving Varun exactly where he first began. 

A BJP insider indicated that this is right where the party wants him too. “Denying Varun the ticket from Pilibhit but fielding Maneka from Sultanpur has limited his options. He will have to wait, as his best bet remains the BJP.” 

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