The names of Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi were dropped from the fresh list of the 80-member BJP national executive posted today amid a flurry of tweets by the BJP MP, condemning the events of UP's Lakhimpur Kheri. The party brushed off the omission -- sources said such rejigs are a "routine exercise".
Varun Gandhi was the only BJP leader to take flag the issue, in which the son of a BJP Union minister has been accused of murder. Ashish Mishra, the son of BJP's junior home minister Ajay Mishra, has not been questioned or arrested.
"There are other senior leaders from UP who have become part of the council in their place. There are at least ten. They must have lost their utility or relevance. We have seen the statements of the son on various occasions. It is after all the party's decision," news agency ANI quoted a senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh as saying.
Other leaders apparently acknowledged that the Pilibhit MP's stance did not go down well with the top leadership.
"He projected as if the entire fault lies at the doorsteps of the leaders. We are awaiting the investigation report and believe that incident was unfortunate. He should have been patient at a time when the entire opposition is targeting the party," ANI quoted a senior BJP leader as saying.
Varun Gandhi has been consistently speaking in support of farmers during their ongoing stir against the Centre's new farm laws. His mother Maneka Gandhi has also been sympathetic to the farmers' cause. Former Union minister Birender Singh, who was also seen as sympathetic, has been dropped as executive member. So has Subramanian Swamy, who was seen as being critical of the party of late.
On Tuesday, Varun Gandhi had tweeted a rather grainy video of a black SUV ploughing through a group of peaceful protesters from behind. Four farmers had died, another four lives were lost in the subsequent violence and arson.
Calling it "murder", Varun Gandhi said the video was enough to "shake the soul".
Yesterday, tweeting what he called a "crystal clear" version of the same video, Mr Gandhi called for "accountability for the innocent blood of farmers".
"Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer," he posted on Twitter.
He has also written to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, asking for a CBI probe and Rs 1 crore compensation for the families of the dead farmers.
The new video - which NDTV has not been able to verify - shows no stones or sticks being thrown by farmers, as claimed by the Union minister. Coming from behind, the speeding car is seen ploughing through protesters who had their backs to the vehicle. It did not stop even when several bodies landed on the bonnet, and was gone within seconds, even before shocked onlookers could cry out.
Both Ajay Mishra and his son have denied that they were present at the spot, though the minister told NDTV that the SUV belonged to his family. Amid opposition demands that he step down, Mr Mishra met his boss, Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday. The government sources have ruled out any resignation.
Varun Gandhi has been consistently speaking in support of farmers during their ongoing stir against the Centre's new farm laws. His mother Maneka Gandhi has also been sympathetic to the farmers' cause. Former Union minister Birender Singh, who was also seen as sympathetic, has been dropped as executive member.