A direct descendant of the Nehru-Gandhis was jettisoning tradition to join with Congress Party’s bitterest ideological foe.
BJP MP Varun Gandhi, first cousin of Rahul and Priyanka, was deemed hot property by the saffron party when he opted to go with it a few years ago, following in the footsteps of his mother Maneka, who had migrated to the BJP long ago and was a Union minister in the Vajpayee government as well.
A direct descendant of the Nehru-Gandhis was jettisoning tradition to join with Congress Party’s bitterest ideological foe. Varun initially chose to speak in crass communal tones to please his political associates and was loved by the saffron crowd and their ardent followers.
The BJP made the callow politician a general secretary of the party right away in order to cock a snook at the Congress, particularly its leader Sonia Gandhi. Perhaps it was also calculated that Varun will outshine his cousin Rahul on the political stage and the impression would be that the true mantle of the Nehru-Gandhis was now with the BJP.
All this appeared to change with the ascendance of Narendra Modi and his alter ego, Amit Shah. With Mr Modi becoming Prime Minister and Mr Shah BJP president, the younger Gandhi was put in cold storage. It may be recalled that when Mr Modi was trying to harvest his party’s backing to be made the BJP’s candidate for the position of Prime Minister in the run-up to the last Lok Sabha polls, many in the BJP had expressed contrary views. Varun was among them.
After the election, Varun could not be removed as a Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, but he was stripped of his party responsibilities. Even in this feverish Assembly election season in five states, including UP, he was overlooked as a campaigner. A popular public speaker, who seems to be well-liked in his Sultanpur constituency, he could have been an asset in the UP campaign. But he was disregarded.
The Nehru-Gandhi scion has stayed away from the poll fray but his conspicuous absence is a subject of animated conversations in his constituency and in political circles. In this period, Varun has made indirect observations that can be interpreted as questioning some of BJP’s political stances, including on the question of development.
Varun’s trajectory will be watched with interest not only in the Congress but in political circles generally. His actions may be guided by BJP’s performance in the five states, specially UP. It is also to be seen to what extent his mother’s position as a Union minister may influence his future course of action. It is entirely possible of course that if the Modi-Shah line is moderated in the BJP in the event of the party’s performance being below par, Varun may get a new lease of life as a BJP politician, provided he stays the course.