New Delhi, March 18: Varun Gandhi has achieved what few politicians manage to — at 29 and in his very first election, he will have his every move documented.
In a statement released today, the Election Commission said it would video-track Varun at all times — covering all his rallies and campaign meetings in the run-up to the Lok Sabha contest in Pilibhit, where he has replaced his mother Maneka as the BJP candidate.
A cameraperson and an official of the rank of magistrate will tail him during his trips to Pilibhit. They would also attend his campaign rallies and meetings, the statement said.
This will be the first attempt of its kind in the country.
Although the commission had announced it would video-track all high-profile contestants and convicted candidates, this was taken to mean it would watch and record the conduct of candidates in and around polling stations on the day of voting and counting. The idea was it would be a deterrent against silent intimidation of voters by either candidates or their agents or political parties.
It was also assumed that convicted candidates, rather than just high-profile nominees, would be watched.
But Varuns speech — aimed perhaps at polarising Hindu and Sikh voters against Muslims, whose number in the constituency has suddenly risen post-delimitation — has prompted the unexpected.
An Election Commission camera will now tail him all the time, apart from the usual crowd of TV cameras, recording his election debut for posterity.
The effort seems an attempt not to allow any law and order problem from building up in the area ahead of elections. It is also intended to keep Varun in check.
The tapes are expected to be scrutinised carefully by the poll panel and used as evidence when the criminal case against Varun goes for trial. This would explain the order requiring a magistrate rank officers presence at his rallies.
Yesterday, an FIR was filed against Varun on the Election Commissions orders for a hate speech attributed to him in which he allegedly threatened to behead Muslims.
Varun, who has denied making the comment, could now play safe and use the tapes of his next speeches to back up his claim that he was a responsible politician who would not spread hate. But if he were to falter again, Varun would not be able to claim the tapes had been doctored.
The Election Commission also issued a notice for violation of the model code of conduct to Varun and the BJP, and asked them to respond by Friday why action should not be taken against them.