The Gandhi cousins have an understanding that Sultanpur, Amethi and Rai Barely are 10, Janpath bastions and they should not disturb each other in these constituencies.
Varun broke this unwritten rule by shifting base from the Pilibhit parliamentary constituency, from where he contested in 2009, to Sultanpur this time.
On Tuesday, he filed his nomination papers as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Sultanpur, just 34 km from Amethi, where cousin Rahul Gandhi is contesting.
Though Varun maintained he will neither campaign in Amethi nor Rae Bareli, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is in the fray, Priyanka sharpened her tirade against him, saying it was an ideological war and “not a family tea party.”
On Sunday, Priyanka said he has gone ”astray”. Addressing a meeting in Amethi, she said, “He is definitely from my family, he is my brother. But he has gone astray. When a young one in the family chooses the wrong path, then the elders show them the right path, the right way. I urge all of you to show my brother the right path.”
In reply, on Tuesday, Varun said she has crossed the “lakshman rekha of decency” and nobody can raise one’s stature by belittling somebody.
“My inherent decency and large-heartedness should not be seen as weakness,” he said.
Apparently, Priyanka’s tirade has the approval of Sonia. Though Sultanpur is considered a 10, Janpath fiefdom, this is the first time that someone with the Gandhi surname is contesting from there.
Varun is locked in a quadrangular contest with sitting MP Sanjay Singh’s wife Amita Singh (Congress), Shakeel Ahmed (SP) and Pawan Pandey (BSP).
Priyanka had referred to charges against him of delivering hate speeches in 2009, saying she could not overlook such views “even if it were my own child”.
Varun, who has been acquitted of the charges by a local court in Uttar Pradesh, had recently described the accusations as the lowest point in his political career.
Interestingly, what Varun did in Sultanpur is something that his mother also did years back. But she later admitted in public she regretted the decision.