Varun Gandhi was axed for 'not being on the right side'

Last Updated 16 August 2014, 19:55 IST

Varun Gandhi not finding a place in the new team announced by BJP president Amit Shah is being attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly taking a serious view of his refusal to contest against his cousin Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP sources said Sultanpur MP Varun had expressed his inability to do so on the ground that he would not like to be pitted against a member of his own family and that as a policy, he never publicly spoke against them.

During the run-up to the parliamentary elections, Varun had courted controversy by praising Rahul’s development work in Amethi. However, later he clarified that he was quoted out of context.

BJP leaders explained that Varun was not retained as general secretary in the new young team also owing to the party and government’s firm view against promoting family members. Modi has included his mother, Maneka Gandhi, in the Cabinet as women and child welfare minister.

Some party leaders close to Varun, however, believe he was axed for not being on the right side of the present dispensation. Others felt that he missed the bus because of his “attitude”.

Interestingly, Maneka Gandhi had recently said she wants the BJP to come to power in UP and her son Varun to become chief minister.

Varun, the party’s youngest-ever general secretary, was chosen for the post last year by former president Rajnath Singh. Singh also made Varun in-charge of West Bengal.

During the polls, a Union minister had said that the Gandhi name may be a necessity for the Congress, but it was not so for the BJP.

However, late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan had admitted Maneka and Varun into the BJP fold to flaunt their Gandhi credentials. In 2009, Varun contested and won from Pilibhit, a constituency developed by his mother who shifted to Anola.

In the recent elections, Maneka returned to their family seat of Pilibhit while Varun shifted to Sultanpur. Both won the elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP alone cornered 71 out of 80 constituencies.

The isolation of Varun was visible even during the elections as he was not invited by Shah, who was in-charge of UP then, to campaign for party candidates from other seats.

Interestingly, Varun too campaigned on his family’s strength, often referring to his father Sanjay Gandhi’s contribution to the region and rarely banking on the Modi wave to reap political dividends.

BJP leaders said his remarks on the turnout for a Modi election rally in West Bengal as “okay” did not go down well with the party.

(Published 16 August 2014, 19:55 IST)

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