The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Run with restraint, hunt with Varun

New Delhi, March 29: L.K. Advani is advocating “restraint” by BJP candidates but won’t condemn Varun Gandhi, putting into practice the party’s conclusion that development alone — bereft of the nationalist plank — will not help win elections.

“It is still not proven (whether) the charges are true or false. Varun has said the tapes are doctored. In the meantime, our party has said the contents as shown in the CD cannot be approved,” Advani told a news conference.

He quickly shifted focus to the Election Commission, condemning it for suggesting that Varun should not be allowed to contest after his alleged inflammatory speech in Pilibhit.

“The EC has no right to make that suggestion. It can ask the police to take action and that is being done. The party has taken the correct stand and it is well within the legal provisions,” he said.

Advani said he expected “every candidate to exercise restraint in their utterances and that there should be peace”. Beyond this, the BJP leader would not take any questions on Varun.

Advani appealed to journalists not to ask questions on Varun as well as the Prime Minister’s recent remarks about him as the news conference was called to address the issue of black money parked outside the country.

His comments are an indication that the BJP is not too worried about the controversy surrounding Varun.

Maneka Gandhi, Varun’s mother and herself a BJP MP, defended her son. She told a TV channel “the boy is being lynched for what everybody in their heart knows is true”. She did not talk of the tapes being doctored.

Two days ago, BJP president Rajnath Singh had told The Telegraph that there were no reasons, so far, to take punitive action against Varun. “He has said the tapes are doctored and we believe him. It is better to wait for the findings of the inquiry. But the parties that do vote bank politics are hyping it up to polarise the atmosphere. We don’t appreciate this kind of politics,” he said.

Rajnath admitted that the agenda of development alone could not guide the BJP’s campaign. “The importance of ideology has increased in these times of jihadi terror. The BJP wants to instil nationalist feelings in the youth through its ideology.”

He added: “The BJP believes in integral humanism. We don’t believe in differentiating between communities and humans. Pseudo-secular parties have created and cemented these divides. Nobody is encouraged to spread hatred in our party. If Varun is proved guilty, we will not tolerate it.”

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