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Ban Varun from contesting poll: Muslim leaders

By Sangita Bakaya in Lucknow
March 24, 2009 11:41 IST
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Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party for lending all out support to Varun Gandhi despite his hate speeches, some Muslim leaders have demanded a ban on his candidature warning that failure to do so would encourage many more to fan communal passions in the run up to the polls.

"The manner in which the BJP is insisting on Varun's candidature from Pilibhit seems that it wants to flaunt its communal card and exploit it fully in the campaigning for the coming elections", Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangimahli, a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Board told PTI.

"Varun Gandhi's speech, it appears, was an experiment at the behest of the BJP which is now being taken ahead with insistence on his candidature. If he is not barred from contesting elections, many more such immature politicians would take cue from it and vitiate communal harmony," Firangimahli said.

Though there is immense anger in the community over the hate speech by Varun, he said "we have made a conscious effort not to stage any protest as we know that is what the BJP wants."

Firangimahli expressed confidence that the Election Commission would debar Varun from contesting.

Another member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and senior counsel, Zafaryab Jilani said Varun has been made a pawn in the hands of the BJP, which is looking to groom him into a "young Narendra Modi" of Uttar Pradesh.

"What he (Varun) is saying is tutored by the BJP, which is exploiting his Gandhi surname and it would be better if his mother puts some check on him," Jilani said.

Though the EC response had been satisfactory, it is for the UP government now to file a chargesheet against him and expedite trial so that he could be convicted, he said.

Airing similar views, All India Sunni Board President Maulana Mohd Mushtaq said the BJP's defence of its candidate proves the intentions of the saffron party.

All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board President Shaista Amber said that the Varun episode is a clear move to polarise the society at election time to suit the BJP.

"It is not just an individual but all such parties propagating a campaign to divide society on caste and communal lines should be debarred," Amber said.

She said that by projecting Varun in this manner, the BJP is also trying to bring him into the limelight in order to pit him against his "more balanced and sober cousin" Rahul Gandhi.

"Varun is otherwise a nobody. Had it not been for this episode he would just have been Maneka Gandhi's son," Amber said.

Varun had made anti-Muslim speeches at a rally in Pilibhit recently.

Congress spokesman, Akhilesh Pratap Singh said through Varun, BJP has cooked up an issue as it desperately wants one.

"BJP has always contested elections on issues such as Hindi-Hindu, Gangajal, Gai-goraksha or Amarnath," he said.

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Sangita Bakaya in Lucknow
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