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Varun Gandhi Won't Contest Lok Sabha Polls, Indicate Associates on Last Day of Filing Nomination from Pilibhit – News18

BJP leader Varun Gandhi has been dropped by the party from the Pilibhit seat. (File image: PTI)

Close associates of Varun Gandhi told News18 that it was unlikely that he would contest in these Lok Sabha polls as they had received no instructions from him on filing nomination

Will Varun Gandhi not contest in the Lok Sabha elections beginning next month? Close associates of the Bharatiya Janata Party leader and his personal staff in Pilibhit have indicated that. On Wednesday, the last day of filing nominations for candidates contesting in the first phase of the seven-round Lok Sabha polls, Varun’s aides say they haven’t received any instructions from him.

The BJP in its fifth list of candidates dropped Varun’s name for the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat he holds in north-east UP, replacing him with former Congress leader Jitin Prasada. Varun’s mother, Maneka Gandhi though has been retained from her constituency Sultanpur. Insiders say that the BJP’s move is an outcome of Varun’s “anti-party reactions” in recent years.

BJP’s ‘surprise’ move

The BJP’s move created ripples in UP’s political circles and further fuelled rumours that Varun may move to Amethi or Raebareli, contest as an independent candidate, and support the Congress.

A few observers speculated that he could contest independently from Pilibhit while others said he may join the Congress. The buzz grew after senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remark that Varun Gandhi was welcome to join the party. There was also speculation that Varun would join the Samajwadi Party (SP) and contest from Pilibhit. However, these reports subsided when SP announced Bhagwat Saran Gangwar as its Pilibhit candidate.

‘He is in Delhi, not Pilibhit’

Close associates of Varun Gandhi told News18 that it was unlikely that Varun would contest in these Lok Sabha polls. “Today is the last day to file nominations. But we haven’t got any instructions from his side. Also, he is not present in Pilibhit, he is in Delhi,” one of them told News18.

Last week, Varun’s representatives had procured four sets of nomination papers for the Pilibhit seat. “It’s more of a loss for the BJP since they have lost a firebrand young leader,” the associate added.

‘Anti-party stance’

Insiders say Varun Gandhi’s “anti-party reactions” on issues such as the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, unemployment, inflation, and poverty may have cost him. “Also local BJP workers were not very happy with his behaviour,” said a BJP source.

In 2021, he demanded the arrest of the perpetrators in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where protesting farmers were mowed down by a vehicle allegedly driven by BJP leader and union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish. In September 2023, Varun slammed Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government after the licence of the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Amethi, named after his father, was suspended following the death of a patient.

Shift in 35-year legacy?

Maneka Gandhi registered her maiden Lok Sabha victory from Pilibhit in 1989 on a Janata Dal ticket. In 1991, she lost the seat to Parshuram Gangwar, a BJP candidate, but won it back in 1996, under the Janata Dal’s banner. After this, her winning streak continued in 1998, 1999, and 2004 as an independent candidate.

In 2009, her son Varun made his debut and won Pilibhit on a BJP ticket. In 2014, Maneka Gandhi won the seat on a BJP ticket, after which Varun again emerged victorious on a BJP ticket in 2019.

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