BJP rejects EC advice, says Varun to remain in fray

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 25 2009, 04:52am hrs
Standing firmly behind scion of Gandhi family, Varun Gandhi, a defiant BJP on Monday rejected the Election Commission's advice asking the party not to nominate the young leader as a candidate from Pilibhit in the Lok Sabha elections.

He 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.

The backing for Varun came after top leaders of the party met at senior leader LK Advanis residence in the wake of the ECs unprecedented action of recommending to the BJP that Varun be dropped. BJP chief Rajnath Singh said Varun will remain the partys candidate and leaders would campaign for him. Varun himself put up a defiant posture accusing the poll body of acting in haste and going beyond its jurisdiction after being pressurised by political considerations.

The young leader, however, came under sharp criticism from his cousin and member of the Gandhi family, Priyanka Gandhi, who said that Varuns comments went against all the principles that the family had stood for and the members of the family lived and died for. Campaigning in her mothers constituency Rae Bareli, Priyanka ticked off Varun, asking him to read the Gita and try to understand it properly. Well, it may be very sad to see him saying those comments on television and what can I say I would advice him to read the Gita properly and to try to understand it properly, said Priyanka, who had earlier wished Varun well in politics.

The EC advice, significantly, was lauded by the JD(U) besides, of course, by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. The BJP, however, maintained that Varun was being singled out by the EC for being a BJP candidate. In a no-holds-barred attack on the poll body, Balbir Punj said the EC does not have the technical knowhow to verify the authenticity of the CD containing the speeches of Varun, which should have been done by a neutral expert. He pointed out that several other candidates convicted of murders and other serious charges were being allowed to contest and even allowed to become ministers. His reference was to Congress leaders including Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, accused in 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases and MK Subba, whose nationality is in question. Senior leader Arun Jaitley too said ECs advice did not come under the ambit of law. But today, before even a chargesheet has been filed, leave alone being convicted, to disqualify a person by suggesting and pressurising the party is not within the powers of the EC, he said. He added that he would have welcomed EC's advice if it had given a similar advice to Samajwadi Party not to nominate persons accused under TADA and the UPA not to field those convicted of murder. BJP chief Rajnath Singh said Varun will remain the partys candidate and leaders would campaign for him.

With his party standing by 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 ECs 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 pressurised 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 under Article 324 of the Constitution.