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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday was campaigning for her brother Rahul in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh while Varun Gandhi is contesting elections from neighbouring Sultanpur. Photo: AFP
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday was campaigning for her brother Rahul in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh while Varun Gandhi is contesting elections from neighbouring Sultanpur. Photo: AFP

Cousins on the war path

An unexpected war of words between Priyanka and Varun Gandhi has left many amused and some stunned

An unexpected and unusual war of ideologies between cousins in Nehru-Gandhi family, which played out on public, has left many amused and some stunned.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who never fails to attract scores of journalists as well as capturing the headlines whenever she is out in Amethi, has sharpened her attack on cousin Varun Gandhi, who is contesting from the adjacent constituency—Sultanpur.

Fans and critics, friends and foes of Gandhi family seem to be puzzled at the reason behind Priyanka’s unprovoked criticism of her cousin, with whom, many believed, she shares a warm relationship.

Some say she was “rude" to her cousin brother, who has recently praised Rahul Gandhi’s works in Amethi—risking even mother Maneka Gandhi’s public scolding.

Another group reacted by saying “Varun should not have joined the enemy camp", which is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Varun Gandhi is contesting from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh on a BJP ticket.

A third section did not understand why there should be so much fuss about the cousins’ war of words. “It is high time to stop giving so much importance to this family," said one sitting in a restaurant in Lucknow.

According to a Congress leader in Lucknow, one should not read too much into Priyanka’s criticism. “Her comments have highlighted the party and its campaign against BJP’s ideology. Everyone is discussing the ‘war of words’. Ultimately, the message that goes is Gandhi family’s fight to protect an ideology."

Priyanka, who has shocked her cousin with her remark that he has gone “astray", was sharper on Tuesday. “This is not a family tea party. It is an ideological war. I believe anybody, no matter how close they are, own blood relations...if they are going to be on that side of the ideological divide...he had expressed his views in the last elections and I do not agree with them at all. I strongly disagree with them," she said referring to the controversy in which Varun was accused of making a hate speech, a charge from which he had been acquitted by a court.

“It is a betrayal of my family. My father died for the unity of this country. I cannot disregard it for anybody even if it is my own child," Priyanka told reporters in Amethi, where she was campaigning for her brother Rahul.

As if enough is enough, Varun broke his silence—but carefully and dignified way. “I have always practised the politics of decorum. I have always viewed others’ respect as my own. In this past decade, whether it has been a member of my family or a senior leader of any political party, in my speeches, I have never crossed the ‘lakshman rekha of decency...all I would like to say is that my inherent decency and large heartedness should not be construed as weakness by anyone," he said in a statement.

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