Varun Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sultanpur MP and ‘star campaigner’ for Uttar Pradesh elections, know for his fierce oratory skills, has been ‘missing’ from poll campaigning this time. Many in the party say that Varun was expected to be given a bigger role in this elections, however, things went contrary to what was expected by his supporters. Varun’s name was missing in BJP’s initial list of star campaigners. Later, the saffron party included his name, virtually to put an end to dissent rumours. Gandhi’s sidelining may be a result of the leader being accused of getting honey trapped and blackmailed into revealing confidential information. In a conversation with NDTV last year, Varun had said the allegations being made may be intended at preventing a role for him in the Uttar Pradesh elections.
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In a dramtic manner, a letter written by US-based lawyer C Edmonds Allen, was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office. The letter accused the BJP parliamentarian of leaking crucial information about defence matters to arms manufacturers after being blackmailed with pictures of him with foreign escorts and prostitutes. The letter named arms dealer Abhishek Verma, who allegedly blackmailed Varun, who was a member of Parliament’s arm committee. However, Verma and Varun had outrighlty denied the allegations of being baseless.
Till last year, some of the party workers were believed to be in favour of naming Gandhi as party’s Chief Ministerial candidate. Quite recently a survey done by UP based news channel, ETV Uttar Pradesh had found Varun Gandhi to be people’s top choice with 51 per cent people backing him as CM candidate, while others from BJP, including Rajnath (28%) and Yogi Adityanath (5%), lagged far behind.
Unlike other dynasts, Varun Gandhi is quite popular in his constituency, people plaud him for personally monitoring projects at the ground level and establishing a personal connect with people. Some of Varun Gandhi’s supporters, who expected to be issued tickets were also sidelined. Varun has even chosen to stay away from campaigning in Sultanpur.