he informal code of not attacking family members lay in shreds on Tuesday with Priyanka Gandhi telling her first cousin Varun Gandhi that the differences between them were ideological. The Lok Sabha election, she said, was “an ideological war and not a family tea party.”
Even as Varun responded to her remarks that he had gone “astray” and should be shown the right path, by saying that he had never crossed the “lakshman rekha of decency” (thus suggesting that his elder cousin might have), Priyanka said she wouldn’t have forgiven even her child if he had done something like this.
Priyanka maintained that it was a war of ideologies with Varun and the BJP, and what he had done – make hate speeches in Pilibhit in 2009 – was a betrayal of the family.
Varun, who filed his nomination papers from Sultanpur — and made his first reference to Narendra Modi in his speech as a “strong leader” — said his large-heartedness should not be construed as weakness by anyone.
Without taking Priyanka’s name, Varun said he considered the nation’s path more important than his own path. Priyanka had said on Saturday that her cousin had strayed and it was the responsibility of the people of Sultanpur to bring him on to the right path. Varun is contesting against Congress’s Ameeta Sinh in Sultanpur.
“What’s the use of personal attacks?” Varun asked and added that these attacks would not demean anyone but the person making them. “My priority is politics of development,” he said.
Within hours, Priyanka hit back saying she could never support someone who was on the “other side of the ideological spectrum”. Priyanka, who arrived in Amethi on Tuesday to meet party workers, said, “Anybody, no matter how close as blood relations, if they are going to be on that side of the ideological spectrum, I will not support them.”
Breaking from the tradition of never discussing family differences in public, Priyanka took on Varun’s political affiliation with the BJP and said, “My father died for the unity of this country. I cannot disrespect that; not even for my own child. This is not a family tea party; it’s an ideological war.”
Questioned about the leak of the April 12 video, in which she exhorts party workers and people of Sultanpur to teach Varun a lesson for going astray, she said she was aware that her speech was being recorded and that she stood by everything she had said. “Those were my views. I stand by them,” she said.