The year is 1978. Jagjivan Ram, the then Defence Minister in the Janata Party government, was a powerful opponent of Indira Gandhi, whose party had just lost the elections. It was said that Ram even had a chance of becoming the first ever Dalit Prime Minister.
On the other side we had Maneka Gandhi, daughter-in-law of Indira, and the editor of a magazine named “Surya”. In a case of political vendetta, explicit pictures of Jagjivan Ram’s son Suresh Ram, in a compromising position with a 21-year-old Delhi University student, were splashed across the centrespread of the magazine.
Cut to the present, Maneka Gandhi must be praying to the heavens hoping that there is no Surya Magazine in present times.
Maneka’s son Varun Gandhi is at the centre of a controversy over allegations that he had leaked defence secrets to controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma. It has been alleged that Verma “blackmailed” Gandhi, who was a member of the defence consultative committee, into sharing sensitive information on crucial military deals.
US-based C Edmonds Allen, an international arms dealer and lawyer, whose earlier complaints had led to investigation of arms dealer Abhishek Verma, has written to the PMO that Varun Gandhi has been “honey trapped and compromised” by Verma. Allen’s letter is said to be accompanied by a compact disc containing hundreds of intimate photos of Gandhi, collected since 2002.
Varun on his part has squarely denied the claims, for lack of any evidence, and has threatened a law-suit for defamation. He claims to have met Abhishek Verma only during his post-graduation days in 2002, and not after that.
Through a public letter to citizens, Varun has further claimed that he “never attended a single meeting of the Defence Consultative Committee” and thus he neither sought nor possessed any information or knowledge of any sensitive information. He also denies meeting Allen ever, and claims that the letter could be a publicity stunt by Allen. He doesn’t mention the pictures or the issue of being honey-trapped in the letter, but calls the claim of him being blackmailed as ludicrous.
As far as the pictures are concerned, they are indeed highly explicit, and we can’t publish them. Allen has claimed that these pictures were authentic and not digitally or otherwise tampered. They do appear authentic, but this should be left to forensic experts, which is why we are not publishing them.
However, we can talk about it for sure. In the pictures accessed by OpIndia.com, Varun Gandhi looks inebriated, to say the least, and in compromising position with a female. In some pictures, his eyes even seem closed. This is crucial since the pictures seem to have been clicked by a third person, using a high resolution camera. Remember, these pictures are from more than 10 years ago, when selfies weren’t a thing nor were sex-tapes to be released online.
So from the photos, some questions arise: Was Gandhi heavily under the influence of some drugs or intoxicants? Does this explain why his eyes seem closed? Does this also explain why he “allowed” a third person to click pictures of him in compromising positions? Was he indeed a victim of blackmailing but chose not to go to police about it?
Whatever the case maybe, Varun is in a soup. What makes matters worse for him is that even BJP has instructed its spokespersons not to defend him. They have either kept mum or have said they wouldn’t like to compromise with national security.
With the Uttar Pradesh elections coming up, this episode can act as a blessing in disguise for BJP. Varun Gandhi has been pushing the BJP to annoint him as the CM candidate of UP. Just a few days before BJP’s national executive meeting in Allahabad in June this year, massive hoardings came up urging BJP to press for Varun as the CM candidate. The posters had Varun’s face juxtaposed with those of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Varun’s mother Maneka Gandhi too has been engaged in some war-fare with BJP. In a move to back her son for UP CM’s post, Maneka tried is alleged to have moved some pawns to defame Smriti Irani, the other contender in the UP CM race. Coupled with the fact that Maneka tried to team up with an abusive journalist known to do hit-jobs on RSS and BJP, she and her son were losing popular support among core BJP supporters.
How will BJP play this episode is yet to be seen. Will they play the silent game and let things move as per the media narrative? Or will they go for the jugular and severe ties with the other Gandhi parivar? Will we see a situation where a Gandhi searching for another political party, may end up joining a party, desperately searching another Gandhi?