A day after the BJP’s by-poll losses in major states including Uttar Pradesh, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi quipped about her son, “Maybe we should bring (Varun) back.”
A BJP parliamentarian from UP, however, was dead serious when he said today that the party should “use leaders like Varun” as it is missing young, dynamic faces in the most politically vital state.
BJP’s Bijnore MP Bhartendra Singh, an accused in last year’s Muzaffarnagar riots, today told NDTV, “Ever since Rajnath Singh moved to the Centre, we don’t have a face in UP. We have a strong potential leadership.”
He agreed that Varun Gandhi could have been that face
The BJP managed to retain only 12 of the 26 assembly seats across eight states for which by-polls were held. But its worst loss was in UP, where the Samajwadi Party wrested eight of 11 seats held by the BJP and its ally Apna Dal.
Asked by NDTV to comment on the party’s downslide after a euphoric national election victory just four months ago, Mrs Gandhi, who is an MP from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, declined to comment.
When pressed to speak about the absence of big faces in the party’s campaign, including her son Varun, she smiled, “Ok then maybe we should bring him back!”
In August, Varun, 34, was dropped as BJP general secretary by new chief Amit Shah.
The party said only one member of a family can hold a post in the party or the government. Maneka Gandhi is Women and Child Development Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
But sources read more into the move, saying that Varun, a parliamentarian from Sultanpur, was sidelined for crossing the line once too often with comments that seemed to question Mr Modi’s leadership.
Maneka Gandhi’s comment at a rally that UP would benefit if Varun were to be chief minister may have rattled the party further.
At a rally in Pilibhit, Mrs Gandhi had said, “Had our party been in power, it would be our right to help you and if Varun were Chief Minister, then think of how much Pilibhit would benefit.”