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If Varun cannot, Maneka to contest from Pilibhit


New Delhi : If Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi, behind bars for alleged hate speeches, cannot contest from Pilibhit, his mother and former minister Maneka Gandhi will fight the Lok Sabha elections from there, party sources said Tuesday.

Maintaining that all options were open for Varun Gandhi, the sources said if all measures fail, Maneka Gandhi will contest from Pilibhit, from where she has been elected to the Lok Sabha five times, as well as from Aonla, the new constituency she shifted to.

Varun Gandhi is jailed and faces charges under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) after his reported communal speeches and violance by his supporters during his arrest in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh Saturday.

“Varun Gandhi can file a habeas corpus petition and simultaneously appeal to the advisory committee (for the NSA) or he may fight elections from behind the bars,” a senior party functionary said.

Habeas corpus is a legal action, or writ, through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention.

“If nothing works out and he is denied permission to fight elections, Maneka Gandhi may fight from both constituencies. All options are open for him,” added the leader who declined to be identified.

Varun Gandhi, the 29-year-old grandson of late prime minister Indira Gandhi, courted controversy after his reported hate speeches, though he claims the CD of his speeches was doctored.

He is reported to have said: “If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, (that) there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the (Bhagavad) Gita that I will cut off that hand.”

The Election Commission reprimanded him while the Uttar Pradesh police lodged a criminal case against him for the incendiary remarks.

Varun Gandhi was initially booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Representation of People Act for “promoting enmity” and acts “prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.

The police later booked him for arson and rioting following the violent incidents preceding his arrest in Pilibhit Saturday.

While Varun Gandhi has been granted bail in two criminal cases, he remains behind bars as he faces charge under the stringent provisions of the NSA that allow his detention for up to a year.