Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Indian poll group censures Gandhi grandson’s speech

AFP AND DPA , NEW DELHI

India’s election authorities have reprimanded the grandson of former prime minister Indira Gandhi for making “highly derogatory” remarks against Muslims while on the campaign trail.

The Election Commission also told the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to drop Varun Gandhi as a candidate for the elections, which start on April 16.

Gandhi last week denied making the speech and said a “political conspiracy” had been hatched against him.

“Those are not my words, and that is not my voice. I have not made any communal statement,” he said in a press conference.

“It [the video] has been doctored. It is a malicious attempt to brand me as communal,” he said adding, “There is no question of my having any ill feeling towards [any] community. India is the home to all faiths and beliefs, and I respect this.”

The election commission said late on Sunday it “condemned and censured” him over the remarks, reported to have included a vow that his BJP would “cut the head of Muslims.”

The commission dismissed Varun’s claims that the recordings had been tampered with.

The BJP, however, said it would ignore the commission’s advice.

“We have turned down the decision of the election commission. It has no right to give such an advice,” BJP spokesman Balbir Punj said.

Varun is the son of Indira’s second child Sanjay, a side of the family that was disowned by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

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