In Indian politics it was a big setback for Nehru Gandhi family when recently Varun Gandhi 28 attacked the Muslim community in his speech during his election campaign. His comments on the Muslim community were so sharp, unconstitutional and abusing that it vibrated Indian politics. As the leaders of the right wing Indian Bharatiya Janata Party are well known for their anti-minority speeches especially for their anti-Muslim comments, it is not a new exercise for them.
Since these current comments were made by Varun Gandhi, the only son of late Sanjay Gandhi and grandson of former Prime Minister of India late Indira Gandhi and great grandson of the first prime minister of India Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and grandson of Feroz Gandhi, it is a matter of discussion for Indian politics. In which circumstances Varun delivered such type of hateful speech? Was it pre planned or due to some political circumstances? Why he did do so?
Varun Gandhi is a candidate in the upcoming general elections for the 15th parliament. He is the parliamentary candidate from Pilibhit parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Early this month, during his election campaign, he allegedly delivered his hateful speech and abused the Muslim community. He said that their hands would be cut down. Their names and faces are fearful. He compared the beard of Indian Muslims with the beard of Osama Bin Laden. He also said that there should be forceful vasectomy of members of this community.
In his speech, he spat out many venomous hateful dialogues against Indian Muslims. The Indian media took it very seriously and criticised him. As a result, the Election Commission of India immediately advised the BJP not to field Varun as Lok Sabha candidate. A criminal case against Varun Gandhi has been filed and the matter is now under consideration of the Courts. Very soon it will be clear whether, as a result of his hateful activity, he will be allowed to contest the coming elections or not.
Now the basic question arises in this regard is that under what circumstances, did a young member of the Nehru Gandhi family become the parliamentary election candidate of the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)? What type of teachings did he get from childhood that made him utter such venom?
It is necessary to look behind three decades of history to understand. Varun Gandhi (28) is the only son of the late Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi was married to Meneka Anand, the daughter of a Sikh family. Now it’s clear that Varun’s mother was Sikh, not Hindu.
On the other side, Varun’s grandfather, the late Feroz Gandhi, was also a member of the well reputed Parsi (Zoroastrian) family of Allahabad. It is the reason that Varun writes his complete name as ‘Varun Feroz Gandhi’. Though he writes it only to maintain his acquaintance with Nehru Gandhi family, nobody can object to it. It is a fact and his right.
But the question arises here, how and why would a person like Varun, with a Sikh mother and Zoroastrian grandfather, become the firebrand spokesperson of a communal political party. Is it not a mystery?
Regarding his teachings, one thing is also necessary to state that no doubt, in his speech Varun has ridiculed the Muslim community and tried to threaten them. But here it is necessary to highlight the name of a Muslim fellow, who was the closest friend of his parents. Neither of them can ignore his name from their political life. That name is of Akbar Ahmed Dumpy who was a childhood friend and classmate of Sanjay Gandhi. Dumpy is the grandson of Justice Sir Iqbal Ahmed, former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court and son of the late Islam Ahmed, former Inspector General of Police in Uttar Pradesh.
Three decades ago, the stories of the friendship between Sanjay Gandhi and Dumpy used to be published regularly in the newspapers. Sanjay Gandhi gave four points for national awareness and development. The first and main point was to organise a tree plantation drive. It is notable that the first symbolic tree of this drive was planted by Sanjay Gandhi in the Dumpy farmhouse at Kitchha town, in Nainital district.
When Indira Gandhi planned to introduce Sanjay Gandhi in politics, at that time Dumpy was serving as a chartered accountant in the United Kingdom. He was not interested in politics until then. But Sanjay Gandhi called him back to India and kept him as his confidant, throughout his life. It was the climax of their friendship that newspapers published that time, ‘when Sanjay Gandhi’s child cries, he becomes quiet in the arms of Dumpy only’. And that child was none other than Varun Gandhi, the person who is abusing Muslims today.
Before reaching the climax of his political career, Sanjay Gandhi left us on 23 June 1980 in a plane crash. That created a big political question as to the political successor of Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi had to face a challenging situation when Meneka Gandhi expressed her desire to be the political successor of her late husband Sanjay Gandhi, whereas Ms. Indira Gandhi wanted her elder son Rajiv Gandhi as her political successor. It is different topic regarding what was right or wrong there. Whether Indira Gandhi should have fulfilled the desire of Meneka Gandhi or Meneka should have agreed with Indira Gandhi, is a separate and controversial issue.
But during 1980-81, the differences between mother in law Indira and daughter in law Meneka, reached a breaking point where both of them adopted their different ways. Meneka Gandhi left her in laws’ residence and separated from the Nehru Gandhi family. In this critical situation, Akbar Ahmed Dumpy didn’t care about his political future and firmly stood with his friend Sanjay Gandhi’s Widow Meneka Gandhi. Thus Dumpy ruined his own political career taking a stand against Indira Gandhi and in favour of Meneka. When any of Dumpy’s friends would try to suggest him that this step will damage his whole political life, Dumpy would say that his first duty was to support his friend’s widow.
Today Varun Gandhi is contesting the election in Pilibhit constituency that Dumpy introduced his mother to and where she won her first ever parliamentary election. The people of the Muslim community voted for her only due to the influence of Dumpy. Dumpy was the person behind Meneka Gandhi who tried to organise supporters of late Sanjay Gandhi behind her under the banner of “Sanjay Vichaar Manch.” It would not be wrong to say that he laid the foundation stone of her independent political career. The BJP is today taking the benefit of Meneka Gandhi’s political career.
Notwithstanding the game of communal polarisation played by the BJP, it was beyond expectation that Meneka Gandhi and her son Varun will forget all the above facts and leave the vision of communal harmony and secularism of their ancestors. If Varun Gandhi adopts the dangerous way of communal polarisation only to get victory in his first ever parliamentary election, then first of all the voters will decide whether Varun may be the firebrand symbol of Hindutva ideology or not. And voters of the country will also decide that at this critical and challenging time before India, when the nation is working on the vision 2020 and the youth of the entire nation are working for this noble vision. At the same time, it will be interesting to see if these youths will be entrapped in Varun Gandhi’s dangerous communal agenda.
People who believe in secularism, communal harmony and integrity of the country, can only feel sorrow to see this vision of Varun. Countrymen, specially the youth may never imagine that a young man like Varun, with the Gandhi name, will expose himself as a communal leader only to gain in the coming elections.