SC orders the release of Varun Gandhi on parole; BJP welcomes decision

Varun GandhiThe Supreme Court has ordered the release of BJP candidate Varun Gandhi, the grandson of ex-India PM Indira Gandhi, on parole for two weeks. He was arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) for his communally-offensive comments against Muslims at the March 6 and March 8 rallies in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh.

Though the coverage of Varun Gandhi's inflammatory speeches were extensively broadcast on Indian television, he said that the recordings were "doctored." However, the Election Commission was convinced that coverage had "not been tampered with, doctored or morphed."

While the release of Varun Gandhi gives him the opportunity to continue poll campaigning, the SC has strictly instructed him to desist "provocative speeches" during his parole term. The court cannot forbid him from contesting elections till the time he is convicted or found guilty.

Welcoming the court's decision to release Varun Gandhi, BJP spokesman Balbir Punj said that NSA was slapped against the party candidate due to political vendetta.

Punj told reporters: "We welcome the SC decision to release Mr. Gandhi on parole. Mr. Gandhi, who is an active party worker, will meanwhile work for the party in this period." Punj added that whatever campaigning Varun Gandhi undertakes in the coming days will depend largely on his "comfort level and demands of the individual candidates, where ever he is needed."

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