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BJP closes its ranks behind 'vicious' Varun

BJP closes its ranks behind 'vicious' Varun

Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: March 24, 2009.

A defiant BJP on Monday rejected the Election Commission's advice to it not to nominate Varun Gandhi as candidate in the Lok Sabha elections and threw its full weight behind his candidature in Pilibhit. The young member of the Gandhi family also came out with a sharp rejoinder, accusing the EC of acting in "haste" and going beyond its "jurisdiction", "pressurised by political considerations".

The morning after the commission made the unprecedented recommendation that BHP should drop Varun as its nominee top leaders of the party met at the residence of senior leader L K Advani and decided to take on the commission. "He (Varun) is our candidate. We have turned down the advice (of the EC) because it does not have the right to give such an advice," party spokesman Balbir Punj told reporters after meeting Varun at his residence.

In a no-holds-barred attack on the EC, Punj said the commission does not have the technical know-how to verify the authenticity of the CD containing the speeches of Varun, which should have been done by a neutral expert. Punj lamented that while Varun has been singled out for action, some others, who had been convicted of murders and under TADA or were facing serious charges, have been allowed to contest and even become ministers. In this context, the BJP spokesman referred to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who are accused in 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases and M K Subba, whose nationality is in question.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said EC's advice did not fall within the ambit of law. "To disqualify a person, even before a chargesheet has been filed, is not within the powers of the EC," he said. Jaitley said he would have welcomed EC's advice if it had rendered similar advice to Samajwadi Party and the UPA. Punj suggested that the EC advice had something to do with the "proximity" of the Chief Election Commissioner-designate Navin Chawla to Congress and the strained relations between Sonia Gandhi and Varun's mother Maneka. BJP chief Rajnath Singh insisted that Varun will remain the party's candidate and leaders would campaign for him. With the party closing its ranks behind him, Varun, who will be making his electoral debut, said the EC action was in "utter disregard of the principles of natural justice," as it had passed the censure "without any attempt to ascertain the truth". "The EC's eagerness to exercise its 'recommendatory jurisdiction' begins and ends with my case alone. This itself, coupled with the haste with which the EC has acted, leaves one to believe that the action has been influenced by political considerations," he said. Varun said by making "adverse remarks and recommendations to the BJP and all other parties, the EC has acted beyond its jurisdiction and has surpassed its powers, including those under Article 324 of the Constitution". Varun has also sent a missive to the Election Commission protesting against its Sunday order against him. The thrust of the letter is that the order was given With utter disregard for the principles of natural justice.

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