Varun returns to Pilibhit, Maneka moves to Sultanpur

Varun returns to Pilibhit, Maneka moves to Sultanpur

BJP MP Varun Gandhi speaking at the Parliamentarian Conclave at Gayan Bhawan in Patna. PTI File Photo

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi swapped their seats in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, scotching speculation that the latter may contest against the BJP.

While Maneka will be fighting from Sultanpur this time, Varun will be shifting to Pilibhit, which he represented in 2009.

As the previous lists did not include the name of Varun, there were speculation that the axe may fall on the Gandhi scion in the saffron stable. There were also reports that Maneka was keen to shift from Pilibhit and find a seat in Haryana, leaving the seat for her son.

However, the release of the ninth list of BJP candidates has cleared the air.

The mother-son duo does not share a good equation with the BJP leadership. Varun had fallen off favour of the Modi-Shah regime and was not part of Shah's team that was formed in August 2014. He was also not made a star campaigner during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.

A section in the BJP claims that the swap is due to the anti-incumbency faced by Varun in Sultanpur, to which he shifted in 2014. Pilibhit is said to be a stronghold of Maneka and Varun.

As the elections neared, there was speculation that Varun will be drafted into the Congress, led by his cousin Rahul Gandhi. The buzz grew louder after Varun's cousin Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, to whom he is closer, joined as Congress general secretary. Varun also enjoys a good relationship with Rahul though their mothers are not on good terms.

Varun recently wrote a book called Rural Manifesto. When the book was released, one of the prominent media narratives was that he was not used by the party in the last two years and he had utilised this time to work on the book while also meeting youth and students.