Earlier in the week I received an email asking me to sign a e-petition in support of Varun Gandhi, the contentious BJP candidate for Pilibhit.
I ignored the mail.
Frankly speaking I am more than a little appalled by the language of the speech Varun is said to have made. He says the tapes are doctored andthere is as yet no forensic evidence to suggest the tapes (first broadcast on NDTV) are authentic. Yet there is no question that the speech stinks--and you don't have to be a paid-up secularist to say so. It is a hate speech.
I am told that there is a context to the inflammatory speech. It seems that there is a pre-existing communal polarisation in the Rohilkhand region and Varun was merely piggybacking on it.
That may be so but it still doesn't justify the coarse language. There must be some civility in politics and strong messages can be delivered without compromising parliamentary norms.
I am more than a little concerned about the effects of this controversy on the BJP. The purported speech may appeal to a small group of activists but it doesn't send a good message to the rest of the country. Initial results from private opinion polls confirm my fears.
The media, which has a distaste for the BJP, is bound to play up the controversy. But there is no reason for the BJP to add fuel to the fire--as some of its leaders have mindlessly done. Circumstances have forced the BJP to reaffirm Varun as their candidate for Pilibhit. Now it must let the matter play out without any party intervention.
For the first time in the election campaign, the BJP looks like emerging as the single-largest party and the NDA the largest pre-poll alliance. The strategy of concentrating on leadership and bread-and-butter issues is beginning to pay dividends.
Varun threatens to disrupt the forward march.
What do you think?