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Attack of the Clones

The author is a poet, novelist and journalist
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Your correspondent catches Varun Gandhi in an awkward moment to get a hang of what’s really going on in the young politician’s head

When this intrepid reporter met Varun Gandhi, he was practising a peace speech before a mirror in the Pilibhit police station and frothing at the mouth. Although he had been granted bail in the criminal cases filed against him, he said he felt safer in the station. “10 Janpath or a crack house would have been better,” Varun Gandhi said, but then you don’t always get what you want. Excerpts:

So did you really make those hate speeches? That stuff about cutting hands and heads of misbehaving Muslims? No, that wasn’t me. The whole thing is a conspiracy by Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi? Hard to believe, huh? But why? If I tell you, you won’t believe me. No, I will believe you. He wants to contest from Pilibhit as the official BJP candidate. And that certainly would go against the interests of Mayawati. So now you know why both Congress and BSP want me out of this place. I don’t believe you. Story of my life. No one believes me. Except when I say something really stupid. Then everybody is so happy to believe me.

Didn’t you say you would castrate wayward men of a particular community? That wasn’t me either. That was my father during the Family Planning days in the Emergency. It was just a way of handing out money. You got your tubes tied, and you were given Rs 75. Rs 75 was huge then. Hello, it’s huge now too. Nothing’s changed. What if Hindus break the law? Hindus can’t break the law. They are Hindus, remember?

Hmm. The CDs doing the rounds have done a pretty good job of imitating you. They may get my voice right, but not my buffalo hairstyle though. Your hair is pure art. I will be honest with you, I am an artist. Have you read my poetry? Isn’t it banned by the ICCR or something? They tried. But I approached PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) through my mother Maneka and got that one stalled. I will be releasing it again soon with an unbeatable offer of Rs 75 for anyone who gets through the first poem. It’s my universal challenge, especially to Muslims.

Is it true that Chhota Shakeel has been trying to kill you? Yes and no. I did fax him if he could arrange a supari on me to get some sympathy vote here, but it turned out like this. These guys can’t get one instruction right.

LSE says you never graduated from that institute. Surprise would be if they said I did. Look, I have had a tough life. My father died when I was three months old. My grandmother’s favourites were Rahul and Priyanka. My aunt Sonia used to taunt me in Italian. My mother the animal activist prefers a dead boa constrictor to any live human. I have seen breakfasts meant for me moved hot and fresh to the animal wing of the house. I have been disowned all my life. You think LSE would count me as its own given my personal history? Why not? Because they are a conservative people. They never break with tradition.

What’s your plan for Pilibhit in case you win? Well, I will have to think of segregation camps, I guess. Is that it? No developmental plans? We will burn that bridge when we come to it.

So I guess you didn’t, after all, make those speeches? I wasn’t even there. Then who was it on the stage before the mike? My clone. He has been around ever since the Election Commission announced poll dates. Your clone? They have a cloning research lab in Karnal, if you must know, where they are trying to produce clones of important political leaders like me and other ruffians. And let me tell you something—in the next few weeks you will see so many of them, you will have clones coming out of your ears. This is scary. You bet. I just don’t want my clone to get the credit for my poetry. He could even get elected to Parliament. Right now, as we speak, my clone is out and about campaigning against me. What do I do? Castrate him? Or make him read my poems. Thanks for the advice. Let’s meet again when all this settles down. Sure. Look forward to it. Just make sure you meet me, not my clone.