(as in http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/)
Still only 29 and campaigning for a seat in parliament this year, Varun Gandhi was the brightest young star in Indian politics. He had the best surname in the business, and the novelty of belonging to the other side.
Many were saying that Gandhi was a potential future leader of his party, the BJP, and would soon be competing against his cousin, the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi, to be India’s prime minister. This is a job that both their great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, and their grandmother, Indira Gandhi, have held.
But now Varun Gandhi is in trouble. Earlier this month, after recent tensions between Hindus and Muslims, he gave an impassioned speech at an election rally. A video has since appeared which shows Gandhi saying, in Hindi, “If someone thinks Hindus are weak or leaderless, if anyone raises a finger towards Hindus, then I swear on [the Bhagavad] Gita that I will cut that hand.”
The tape shows Gandhi claiming that Muslims had “scary names like Karimullah and Mazrullah” and “if you meet them at night you will be scared”.
He was also heard saying: “All the Hindus stay on this side and send the others to Pakistan. This is not a hand: it is the power of the Lotus, it will cut their throats after elections,” and comparing a Muslim politician to Osama Bin Laden.
Gandhi denies making these statements, and believes that the video recording has been doctored. “The voice is not mine. I don’t know who could be behind this,” he said.
But many believe the video was real, and there are now calls both for the BJP to withdraw Gandhi’s candidacy, and to prosecute him under ‘hate speech’ laws. His aunt, Sonia Gandhi, the current leader of the Congress party, described Varun’s tirade as “unethical and against the law”.
If he was charged and found guilty, Gandhi, who spent his university days in London at LSE and then SOAS, could face up to five years in jail.