Feroze Varun Gandhi, often seen as the ‘other Gandhi’, thanks to his estranged relatives in the Congress party, is a two-time parliamentarian from Uttar Pradesh.
Varun Gandhi, younger to his cousins Rahul and Priyanka, joined the BJP in 2004, when he was 24 and not old enough to contest an election.
Though he was born into the Nehru-Gandhi family, he did not get a natural launch in politics like his cousin Rahul. This was because his mother fell out with Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s after his father Sanjay Gandhi’s death in a plane crash. Varun Gandhi was just three-months-old when he lost his father.
His real political grooming began when he campaigned for his mother, BJP parliamentarian and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, for the 2004 national election in Pilibhit.
He fought his first election from Pilibhit in 2009. He emerged as a force to reckon with when he won that election with a huge margin.
However, after tasting electoral success, Varun Gandhi was jailed for 19 days in 2009 on charges that he delivered speeches designed to trigger communal tension between Hindus and Muslims. A year later, a court in Uttar Pradesh exonerated him, citing lack of evidence.
In the 2014 election, he fought from Sultanpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, a seat is adjacent to the cousin and aunt’s stronghold of Amethi and Raebareli.
Over the past few years, he has been vocal about his criticism of the BJP leadership and this has not earned him any points. Varun Gandhi believes that his bosses did not back him after allegations were made in 2016 that he had been honey-trapped and blackmailed into leaking crucial information.
In the 2019 national election, the mother-son duo swapped seats, with Varun Gandhi moving from Sultanpur, back to Pilibhit. Currently, Mr Gandhi is leading with around 4,85,000 votes and his nearest rival, the Samajwadi Party’s Hemraj Verma polling around 2,98,000 votes.
Sources say one of the reasons for the straight swap is that the BJP was less sure of the 39-year-old’s chances in Sultanpur this time. He was also sidelined by the party for campaigning in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Those close to Mr Gandhi were denied tickets by the BJP.
On Twitter, Varun Gandhi describes himself as a writer, poet and author of two books. An alumnus of Rishi Valley School, the British School in New Delhi, he was a published poet before he joined politics. He is graduate from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Varun Gandhi married Yamini Roy, a graphic designer, in March 2011. The couple has a daughter.
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