Analysis: Will Varun’s Ouster From BJP Be Congress’s Gain?

Analysis: Will Varun’s Ouster From BJP Be Congress’s Gain?

While there is no official word on Varun joining the Congress, a large section of Sanjay Gandhi supporters and old-timers within the Congress have been persuading the Gandhi family to welcome him into the fold

Neelu VyasUpdated: Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 11:35 PM IST
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Varun Gandhi | PTI

The Congress invited Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi to the Congress camp a day after the Pilibhit MP was replaced with ex-Congress MP Jitin Prasada for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

On Gandhi not getting a Lok Sabha ticket from the BJP, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that Varun Gandhi didn’t get a ticket due to his relations with the Gandhi family. “He should come here. We would be happy. He is an educated man. He has a clean image. BJP denied him a ticket because he is related to the Gandhi family. I think he should come (to Congress),” Chowdhury said during a press conference in Murshidabad, West Bengal. According to media reports, Gandhi feels “cheated” and may not contest the upcoming polls after the BJP’s snub. However, he has not made an official statement about his election strategy.

While there is no official word on Varun joining the Congress, a large section of Sanjay Gandhi supporters and old-timers within the Congress have been persuading the Gandhi family to welcome him into the fold. These family reunification optics with family values like “bada bhai chhota bhai” coming together, and Sonia Gandhi forgiving the son of the family after many decades, might not only bolster the Congress’s prospects but could prove to be a shot in the arm as far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned. Sources within Congress say that many seniors from the old Rajiv Gandhi camp are also trying their best for Varun’s induction, but they say it could come with a condition that Varun will have to apologise for his communal comment against Muslims in 2009, so that the Muslim vote bank doesnt feel cheated by the Congress and also vis a vis the I.N.D.I.A alliance. It is this aspect which is being discussed and deliberated right now. There are a few glitches and roadblocks still, because a small section of Congress leaders are reluctant for this unification, but ultimately it’s Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka who have to make the decision and that will purely be their call as no one will have the right to intervene in family matters.

According to political commentators, Varun Gandhi purportedly lost favour within the BJP ranks due to his repeated criticisms of the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh. In 2023, he criticised the UP government following the suspension of Amethi’s Sanjay Gandhi Hospital’s licence after the death of a patient.

In 2022, Gandhi took a swipe at the Uttar Pradesh government for neither postponing the Preliminary Eligibility Test (PET) nor making “adequate transport arrangements” for students to reach exam centres in flood-affected areas of the state. “Ground realities are perhaps not visible from aerial surveys,” he had tweeted on X (formerly Twitter) in a subtle dig at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who had surveyed the flood-hit areas from his helicopter.

In 2021, following his tweets on the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, both Varun Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi were dropped from the BJP’s 80-member national executive committee. “The video is crystal clear. Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer,” he had said in one of his tweets.

So how will one look at Varun Gandhi’s knockdown from the BJP? It’s a clever strategy to give the ticket to his mother Maneka Gandhi and deny him the same. This might work for the BJP to keep the duo under check, restrain them from their usual salvos at the BJP government and even force Maneka to feel obliged as well. Many in the BJP feel that it’s an old tried-and-tested ploy to drive a wedge between mother and son, and the BJP can succeed in reining in both the leaders. But if Varun Gandhi joins the Congress then the BJP again might be accused of giving this opportunity on the platter to the Congress which many would see as the biggest story in the last four and a half decades. So has the BJP blundered and will it turn into another blessing in disguise for Congress? Only time will tell but Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury has made it amply clear that the Congress deck is ready to welcome Varun Gandhi aboard.

Neelu Vyas is a senior television anchor and digital content creator. Twitter: @neeluopines

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