He hits back, says don’t mistake ‘generosity’ for ‘weakness’; both invoke their fathers.
Ideological differences in the Gandhi family turned into a full-fledged war of words Tuesday with cousins Varun Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra taking jibes at each other. While Priyanka reminded Varun that “it is not a family tea party but an ideological war”, Varun, while addressing workers in Sultanpur, said he would keep his promise of not visiting Rae Bareli and Amethi — Sonia Gandhi’s and Rahul Gandhi’s constituencies respectively — but his “generosity should not be mistaken as weakness”.
Priyanka went on to say she was ashamed of the views Varun expressed during the last elections and that they were like betrayal of the family.
“It is not a family tea party. It is an ideological war. I stand by the statement that I gave on him because that is what I believe. I stand for the ideology, which is right for this country,” Priyanka told The Indian Express, when asked about Varun shifting his parliamentary constituency to neighbouring Sultanpur and whether she stands by her comments on him.
Priyanka reached Amethi Tuesday and was on her way from Fursatganj Airfield to Munshiganj guest house in Amethi, where she held a day-long meeting with party workers.
So far Rahul, Priyanka and Varun had avoided attacking each other but this unspoken understanding was broken after a video of a closed-door meeting — showing Priyanka saying how Varun had lost his way and needed to be taught a lesson — was leaked two days ago.
Speaking to reporters outside Munshiganj guest house, Priyanka said she “strongly disagrees” with and feels “ashamed” of Varun’s views during last elections and considered it as betrayal of the family.
“I believe that nobody, no matter how close they are as blood relation, but if they are going to be on that side of the ideological spectrum then this is my belief. I am ashamed of the views expressed by him on certain things in the last election. I strongly disagree with them and feel it is betrayal of my family,” she said.
Indicating that unity of the country was above all for her and invoking Rajiv Gandhi, Priyanka said, “My father died for the unity of this country and I cannot disrespect that for anybody even if it was my own child.”
Varun, who filed his nomination papers as the BJP candidate from Sultanpur Tuesday, also invoked his father. “It is a new chapter in my life and this day reminds me of my father Sanjay Gandhi… I have not hurt anyone, be it family and I have not crossed the line but my honesty and generosity should not be mistaken as my weakness.”
He said no one can rise by denigrating others and that he stood by his promise of not going to Rae Bareli and Amethi. “I had said it earlier that I would not go to Rae Bareli and Amethi. I am son of Sanjay Gandhi and I would stand by my promise.” He asked people of Sultanpur to bless him “not as a leader but as a son”.
Varun made a rare reference to Narendra Modi in his address and called him a “strong leader”. He went on to criticise dynastic politics and promised that he would work towards bringing common man to politics.