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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Varun Gandhi

Varun Gandhi is the son of Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi, the son and daughter-in-law of the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Feroze Varun Gandhi was 3 months old when his father was killed in a plane crash.

On 31 October 1984, when Varun Gandhi was 4 years old, his grandmother and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her bodyguards.

Varun's mother, apart from being a political opponent of the Indian National Congress, is an animal rights' activist of international stature. She used her famous name to direct attention in the country towards animal welfare. She has set up a nationwide organization called People For Animals (PFA).

Varun's great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Prime Minister of India, and his great-great-grandfather Motilal Nehru was a distinguished leader of the Indian independence movement. His grandfather Feroze Gandhi was a Parsi parliamentarian and the husband of Indira Gandhi.

Indira Gandhi is said to have been very fond of Varun, and was greatly distressed when Varun's mother left the household. In an interview, Varun suggested that he feels a bond with the Nehru-Gandhi family, even though he belongs to a rival political party. Varun has claimed that Indira Gandhi did not force his mother Maneka Gandhi to leave, she left on her own.

He started his education at Modern School, New Delhi. After finishing the fourth standard, he transferred to the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, India. He then went on to The British School, New Delhi, studying for his UK secondary exam board GCSEs and A levels. He obtained his BSc in Economics from the University of London External System.


Varun Gandhi held college degrees from the London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), both in London, United Kingdom.

Varun was exposed to politics from an early age as his mother, Maneka Gandhi, was politically active since his birth.[citation needed]

In August 1999, at the age of 19, Feroze Varun Gandhi was active in his mother's Pilibhit constituency. She made Varun accompany her in meetings. Varun started addressing public meetings during this election campaign.

He wrote a book of poems titled "The Otherness of Self", illustrated by Anjolie Ela Menon, Manjit Bawa and Manu Parekh. Asked what drew him to poetry, Varun Gandhi, explained: “Because it is so precise and illustrates the strength of language.”

In February 2004, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party along with his mother after being convinced to do so by BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan.[6] His joining the BJP was hyped by the BJP with general secretary Pramod Mahajan claiming that "With Varun joining BJP, half the Congress will be with us..." The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee posed before the media with Maneka Gandhi and Varun after which the BJP held a media event presided over by the then BJP president Venkaiah Naidu[8] . The president of the Indian National Congress and Varun's aunt, Sonia, wished him success in his career in politics. She later said that Maneka and Varun's joining BJP was "painful as the Nehru-Gandhi family had always fought against communalism".

Varun was used as a star campaigner by the BJP in the 2004 elections. He, however, refused to attack his family consisting of his cousins Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and his aunt Sonia Gandhi.

In October 2004, when campaigning for the BJP in Maharashtra assembly elections, he questioned the Congress as to what it had done for minorities in the past 50 years.

In November 2004, he was inducted into the BJP national executive.

In 2006, the BJP asked him to contest the by-election to Lok Sabha from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, a seat vacated by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chauhan. The party backtracked later denying Varun the ticket. The party then offered Varun a seat to contest from Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur constituency, but this time Varun refused the seat.

In January 2008, the media reported that his mother Maneka Gandhi would vacate her five-time constituency of Pilibhit for Varun during the 2009 elections, while she will contest from neighboring Aonla. BJP decided to field Varun Gandhi from the Pilibhit Lok sabha seat for general election 2009. Varun Gandhi was elected into the 15th Lok Sabha of India by a victory margin of nearly 293,501 votes. He procured around 429,000 votes. Highest margin for a newcomer, and second highest margin in the House.

In January 2010, a large section of the BJP was projecting Varun Gandhi as the future face of the party in the country, especially Uttar Pradesh. A public rally addressed by him in Sultanpur, in December 2009, drew a larger crowd than any of the events hosted by the BJP in the recent past. The RSS sees him as the only hope for strengthening the party's presence in Uttar Pradesh.

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