Home > News > Report

Maneka, Varun Gandhi join BJP

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 16, 2004 17:20 IST


Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi -- the widow and son of Sanjay Gandhi, who was the virtual leader of the Congress party in the late 1970s -- joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday. The two were admitted into the party by BJP president Venkaiah Naidu at the party headquarters on Ashoka Road.

The two had met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani before they were formally inducted into the party fold.

"I have been part of the National Democratic Alliance and I contested as an independent for eight years," Maneka Gandhi after joining the party, "I won my seat four times and twice with a record margin. My party symbol remained the same and I believe in hard work coupled with honesty and dedication. These are my basic values."

Speaking to the media after joining the BJP, Varun Gandhi, grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and great-grandson of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, said, "Historically, my family has been part of the Congress and has led it through its most glorious era. I do believe, however, that what my family was true to was not a party but a value system, a tradition of self-sacrifice, national pride and independence of spirit. I consider joining and strengthening the BJP to be in the nation's best interest and, therefore, decided to do so."

Asked if the person of foreign origin [becoming a prime minister, a reference to his aunt Sonia Gandhi] still remained the issue, Varun said it remained an issue but he would like to concentrate on other campaign issues. "The foreign origin is an issue but there are many other issues besides it that could be taken up during the poll campaign," he said.

Asked if he would campaign against his first cousins, Rahul and Priyanka, if they contested the Lok Sabha elections, he replied, "I would try not to campaign against the family. I do not believe in attacking someone. I would only discuss the poll issues that include good governance and the leadership of Prime Minister Vajpayee. I will follow the principles of BJP."

He brushed aside charges that he was joining a communal party. "If the BJP were a communal party then I would not join it. I have met Prime Minister Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Advani; they are liberal in their attitude, progressive, and forward looking persons," he insisted.

Maneka Gandhi appealed to the media not to refer to Sonia Gandhi and her as bahus (daughters-in-law; referring to the time when both were daughters-in-law of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) any longer. "I have been in politics for a long time. I think we are far too old to be bahus. The time of remaining independent has long past and hence I thought of joining the BJP party which provides to us with an opportunity to work," she said.

She refused to comment on the Ram temple dispute by saying that the media knows her views on the matter.

Venkaiah Naidu denied that the BJP had split the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty with a view to gain political mileage and use Maneka Gandhi and her son against Sonia Gandhi and her two children to counter the legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

"We do not believe in splitting any dynasty," said Naidu, "They expressed their willingness to join BJP and we have accepted them within our party fold. We would utilize their services during the poll campaign. Varun in particular has appeal for the youth. I would appeal to the youth of India to join BJP in large numbers to ensure the victory of BJP and its alliance partners."

Article Tools
Email this article
Print this article
Write us a letter

Related Stories

Dynasty zindabad!

Maneka Gandhi, Varun meet PM

'Rajiv lost life becoz Bofors'

People Who Read This Also Read

Day one talks: India, Pak happy

The Nitty-Gritty Man

Sworn enemies search for peace

Copyright © 2003 rediff.com India Limited. All Rights Reserved.