The great-grandson of India’s first prime minister was in custody today over his “Muslim hate speech”, it was reported.
Varun Gandhi, a descendant of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was remanded into custody until Monday after he appeared in a Pilibhit court, where the case has been filed against him.
The verdict came shortly after Mr Gandhi addressed a group of people outside the court. He said: “This is a conspiracy in which I have been framed.
“I have full faith in judiciary. I believe in my principles and I am willing to fight for them. I am ready to go to jail.
“The only objective of my coming here is to strengthen my people, my society and the whole country. I will not step back, if by my going to jail others are encouraged to stand by their principles, to fight by their principles,” he said to people raising slogans in his support.
In his “hate speech” earlier this month, Mr Gandhi reportedly made connections between an opposition leader and Osama bin Laden.
“When my cousin, who is seven years old, saw the photo of the Samajwadi Party’s candidate, she said ’I did not know that Osama bin Laden is fighting from your constituency’.”
“If anyone raises a finger towards Hindus, or if someone thinks that Hindus are weak and leaderless, if someone thinks that these leaders lick our boots for our votes, if anyone raises a finger towards Hindus, then I swear on the Gita that I will cut that hand,” he said in his controversial speech.
The Nehru-Gandhi family has dominated the governing Congress Party that has ruled India for 47 out of the 61 years since it gained independence from Britain.
Mr Gandhi joined the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s main opposition party, in 2004.
Congress Party’s spokesman Kapil Sibal blamed BJP’s top leader LK Advani for Mr Gandhi’s arrest drama.
“A drama is being enacted by Varun Gandhi. I am sure that Mr Advani is in tune with it. Without his consent, it would not have happened,” Mr Sibal said.
The country will go into polls next months and Mr Gandhi is BJP’s candidate from Pilibhit. Balbir Punj, a senior BJP member, said: “Varun Gandhi was still the BJP candidate in Pilibhit. What I am telling you is the outcome of the consultations among the BJP leaders.”
He blamed the Congress Party for having a hand in the controversy. “The world knows about the strained relationship between Sonia Gandhi (Congress Party leader and wife of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi) and Maneka Gandhi (Mr Varun Gandhi’s mother).”
The hearing will resume on Monday.
Mr Gandhi denied making the comments, saying the video had been tampered with.
“I am innocent. I have been falsely implicated in a conspiracy,” he told reporters. He did not accuse anyone by name.
India’s Election Commission said it is “fully convinced and satisfied” that the video “has not been tampered with, doctored or morphed”.