BJP General Secretary Varun Gandhi with his mother Maneka Gandhi (Photo: AP/File)
Sultanpur: BJP General Secretary Varun Gandhi on Tuesday filed his nomination papers from Sultanpur Lok Sabha seat, which is close to the Nehru-Gandhi bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi, after holding a massive roadshow.
Party workers showered 34-year-old Varun with flower petals and greeted him with beating of drums as he led a huge procession of supporters towards the district collectorate to file his nomination.
However, the road show was cut short after he covered a distance of 1.5 km as the local administration at Sahganj chowk said permission was taken only for filing nomination and not for the roadshow.
The procession, which was supposed to cover five km before reaching the collectorate, could not reach the main city areas.
Varun, who represented Pilibhit Parliamentary constituency in 2009 has shifted to Sultanpur this time where he is locked in a quadrangular contest with Sultanpur MP Sanjay Singh's wife Amita Singh (Congress), Shakeel Ahmed (SP) and Pawan Pandey (BSP).
Significantly, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's name was missing from the hoardings which Varun's supporters carried in the procession. The hoardings had a big picture of Varun in the centre.
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani adorned the top corners of the hoardings while the bottom corners had pictures of local leaders. The party symbol 'lotus', however, was widely used in the procession with BJP flags hoisted on top of vehicles, which were a part of the roadshow.
The supporters were raising slogans like 'Varun nahin yeh Aandhi hai, Sultanpur ka Gandhi hai' (Varun is a storm, he is Sultanpur's Gandhi).
Varun did not mention Modi's name during the first leg of his campaign and had sought to reach out to people invoking the name of his father Sanjay Gandhi.
After Varun shifted to Sultanpur, he had praised Rahul Gandhi's work in Amethi, which had kicked up a political storm forcing him to clarify his remarks.
In a recent meeting of Congress workers, Priyanka Gandhi had told them that Varun is her brother but has gone "astray" and they should show him the right path, a remark which invited a stinging reaction from Varun's mother Maneka Gandhi.
BJP has won the Sultanpur seat thrice in the past but has been on a weak wicket since the last 16 years during which Congress' Sanjay Singh won from Sultanpur in 2009, while BSP won the seat in 1999 and 2004.
Locals say that Varun's invoking his father Sanjay Gandhi's name is a deft move, as while the BJP is organisationally weak in the region, the name of the Nehru-Gandhi family strikes an instant connect with masses.
In his election meetings, Varun has been calling Sultanpur as his father's 'karmabhoomi', something which
Congress candidate Amita Singh, an old friend of the Nehru-Gandhi family has been trying to counter.
Earlier Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is contesting from Amethi seeking a third term, had also held a 42 km roadshow covering areas of both Amethi and Sultanpur.