Varun Gandhi is a smart politician, one who can certainly read the tea leaves better than many others of his generation of politicians, especially those coming from a political lineage. It is therefore not difficult to assess that he would be aware of the ramifications of his tweets and speeches, especially ones that to his party may seem like a show of dissent or breaking ranks.
While he has already been dropped from the BJP National Executive, there is a strong buzz that the party may have some stronger punishment, including denying him the party ticket in the next Lok Sabha election, in mind for him.
“It may be the end of the road for him in so far as his association with the party is concerned. But we will have to wait and watch before taking a final view,” said a BJP party insider.
Asked if his mother Maneka Gandhi could also be punished, the leader replied, “If he is not there, how can she continue? But in politics, nothing is ruled out.”
While not many were surprised to see the normally careful-with-words Varun tweet the controversial video of Karnal (Haryana) sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Ayush Sinha, where he is heard telling the police personnel to break the heads of protesting farmers, the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi again took to the social media platform Twitter to send out a thinly-veiled message to his leadership.
“Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view, and work with them in reaching common ground,” the Pilibhit MP wrote in his tweet while also adding a video of the protesting farmers.
Sources in the BJP told India Ahead, the party then took note of the MP’s statement, viewing it as an attempt by the MP to break ranks with the party’s official line, one where any kind of giving in to the farmers was, so far, a strict no.
“He was crossing the Lakshman Rekha, joining the other side. In the BJP of today, that is simply unacceptable. But I am sure, Varun had considered that before making the statements,” said a senior BJP leader, who didn’t wish to be quoted.
The two tweets were followed up with letters to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about, among other things, Varun sought strictest-possible punishment to those involved in the mowing down of innocent farmers.
On October 5 and 7, Varun again took to Twitter to highlight that, since as per videos of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, in which the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was allegedly involved in the gruesome incident, protestors couldn’t be silenced through murder.
“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 said.
Three days later, Gandhi again tweeted to warn that the “attempt to turn #LakhimpurKheri into a Hindu vs Sikh battle” was not only an “immoral & false narrative”, it was also dangerous since it would “reopen wounds that have taken a generation to heal”. “We must not put petty political gains above national unity,” he warned.
His party sees these are his message to his own party, where, for a long time now, Varun has been feeling sidelined and ignored.
The final nail in the coffin could be his yesterday’s tweet, where he posted an old video of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, speaking in support of farmers in an earlier era.
In a clear indication of which way wind is blowing, within hours of his October 7 tweet, Varun was out of the reconstituted 80-member BJP National Executive.
His mother Maneka Gandhi, party MP from Sultanpur, as well as party’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, who has also been taking potshots at the Narendra Modi government for its perceived failures on several fronts, was also similarly dropped.
Maneesh Chhibber is a Consulting Editor with India Ahead News. The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author.