Varun Gandhi: Living in his father’s shadow*

Everybody has his or her version of the worst times in the history of modern India. For some it is the Partition. For others it is our defeat in the 1962 war against China. And still others talk about the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the violence that followed… Anybody who has observed the Varun Gandhi saga over the last fortnight will understand immediately what the BJP is up to. At first, it was embarrassed by the hatred embodied in Varun’s speech. Then, it realised it could have it both ways.
A second dark phase is the massacre in Gujarat a few years ago. The Gujarat killings occurred at a time when India was ready to take its place on the world stage. .. Given that these are my two selections for the darkest phases in recent Indian history, what do you suppose my biggest fear is? Well, it is a combination of the legacy of Sanjay Gandhi and the hatred engendered by Narendra Modi. And now, as Varun Gandhi’s goondas riot in the streets of Pilibhit, protesting their master’s arrest for spreading communal hatred, we have both phenomena captured in one squeaky, roly poly package. But at the end of the day, Varun Gandhi is not so much a politician as a surname. Were he not Indira Gandhi’s grandson, he would be just another fat boy trying to get ahead in the cesspool of Indian politics.
The reason he attracts so much attention and the reason the BJP so-called enemies of dynasty lavishes such affection on him is because he is a Gandhi. Better still, he is their kind of Gandhi. He may have the blood of Jawaharlal Nehru in his veins but he has the brain of Guruji Golwalkar, the charm of Sadhvi Rithambhara, the mendacity of Maneka Gandhi and the communal arrogance of Narendra Modi. All this combines with the anti-democratic legacy of the first thug to achieve such prominence in Indian politics: Sanjay Gandhi.
Anybody who has observed the Varun Gandhi saga over the last fortnight will understand immediately what the BJP is up to. At first, it was embarrassed by the hatred embodied in Varun’s speech. Then, it realised it could have it both ways. It could say that the CDs of the speech had been doctored without bothering to find any forensic evidence at all to support this outlandish claim. And it could promote Varun as a fatter-than-life, communal pin-up. From then on, Varun has been no more than a puppet in the BJP’s hands. It was the party’s idea to ask him to go to Pilibhit and to court arrest. It was BJP workers who threw stones and ran amuck in the streets. And it is BJP ideologues who are trying to see if they can turn him into some kind of Hindutva poster boy by provoking violence and mayhem. By any standards, this is a shameful strategy. Most BJP leaders of consequence including L.K. Advani were sent to jail by Sanjay Gandhi. They fought the 1977 election to defeat Sanjay and to restore democracy.
In the 77-79 phase, when Sanjay supporters brought their goondagiri to the streets of Delhi and Lucknow, it was the leaders of today’s BJP who were the loudest in its condemnation. And yet, here they are today, celebrating the legacy of Sanjay Gandhi and throwing in a dose of communal poison as well. All this augurs badly for the future. Is this kind of cynical manoeuvering the level to which the BJP has now been reduced? Is the BJP without the statesmanship of A.B. Vajpayee no better than the Youth Congress of Sanjay Gandhi? And what kind of government will the BJP provide if this is how it functions?
The BJP thinks it’s being smart. No top leader is saying very much in Varun’s favour (except for Rajnath Singh who speaks first and thinks afterwards). The defence is being left to chhota mota spokesmen of the calibre of Balbir Punj, who are figures of no consequence and who can easily be disowned if things go very wrong. But sometimes, it is possible to be too smart.

Something like that seems to have happened to the BJP. The violence and goondagiri on the streets of Pilibhit make us wonder about the party’s reputation for discipline. The hate speeches leave us wondering about the BJP’s new-found moderation. Think about this: if L.K. Advani can’t even rein in Varun Gandhi’s goondas, then what kind of Iron Man is he? Either Advani doesn’t want to stop the goondas or Manmohan Singh was absolutely right when he described him as a weak man whose sole achievement was the destruction of the Babri Masjid. You decide.
*Excerpts from Vir Sanghvi (March 28, 2009)
Email Author: counterpoint@hindustantimes.com?<http://www.hindustantimes.com/Search/Search.aspx?q=Vir Sanghvi&nodate=1>

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One response to “Varun Gandhi: Living in his father’s shadow*

  1. Dr.R.K.D.Goel

    01.04.2009
    Varun Gandhi is a victim of his company with the Modi’s hindituva saffron parivar.
    Varun deserve sympathy not to be booked under NSA.
    He is still immature than his cousin brother Rahul Gandhi. Both are from Nehru- Gnadhi dynastry.
    Mrs. Sonis Gandhi should help Varun Gandhi to bring him out from NSA.
    When Modi speak against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Varun Gandhi warn Modi that he can’t bear any insult to her aunt and cousin.
    After all Varun Gandhi is also Grand Son of Indra Gandhi. Mrs Sonia Gandhi should help Varun Gandhi from his trouble of wrong company of Hard core Saffron Parivar. Varun has the blessing of Atulji. All should help a budding young man.

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