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BJP ignores EC’s advice
Refuses to drop Varun
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
Accusing the Election Commission (EC) of bias and acting under political pressure, BJP and its candidate for the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat, Varun Gandhi, questioned EC’s jurisdiction to advise the party to withdraw him as a candidate.

BJP president Rajnath Singh made it clear that the party has no plan to drop Varun Gandhi from its list. “Varun remains our candidate and will remain our candidate,” asserted BJP leaders with Arun Jaitley adding that they are not questioning the EC’s ‘intention’ but merely the ‘jurisdiction’. Rajnath Singh chipped in to say, “under no circumstances will Varun Gandhi be replaced.”

Jaitley said the EC had no right to advise the BJP and suggested that it should instead stop candidates with criminal background from entering the fray.

Pointing out that no chargesheet had yet been filed against the candidate for his allegedly vituperative and communally surcharged speeches, they wondered how the EC can make any recommendation to drop him. Jaitley, a lawyer, declared, “what the EC does not have the power to do directly, it cannot do indirectly”.

Referring to Samajwadi Party’s decision to put up Sanjay Dutt as a candidate from Lucknow, BJP leaders pointed out that Dutt had been convicted under TADA. There were other candidates who have been charged or convicted with murder, they said, and also Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, accused of rioting—but the EC has not cared to advise political parties to withdraw them from the fray.

Varun Gandhi himself accused the Election Commission of not giving him a fair chance to prove his innocence. Reiterating that the tapes, which allegedly show him delivering inflammatory speeches directed against the minority community, had been doctored, the BJP candidate accused the EC of not allowing him a personal hearing, of not providing him with a copy of the inquiry report or material on which the report was based and, finally, of not showing or seeking the original recording.

“I find that the EC’s eagerness to exercise its recommendatory jurisdiction begins and ends with my case alone.”

The Congress, meanwhile, supported the recommendation made by the EC. “The EC is taking steps that are required to be taken. Even a blind person would be in no doubt about the author and presenter of the speech. But instead of showing some regard to constitutional principles and propriety, the BJP is attacking the EC and the Congress,” said party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi. It is a case of “ulta chor kotwal ko daante,” he quipped.

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