Several senior BJP leaders, including Subramanian Swamy, played down party general secretary Varun Gandhi’s praise of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s work in Amethi.

They said the remarks had been misinterpreted, and declined to comment if the party was contemplating any action.

Campaigning in Sultanpur on Tuesday, Mr. Varun Gandhi was heard saying his estranged cousin had done good work to empower women in Amethi.

BJP president Rajnath Singh recently directed all members to refrain from expressing their view outside the party forum.

The direction came following a series of tweets from senior leaders expressing their disagreements with the party line and discomfiture with the leadership.

Mr. Varun Gandhi recently told reporters that he would not campaign against his cousin Mr. Rahul Gandhi in Amethi as he believed in political decorum.

Close on the heels of Mr. Varun Gandhi’s comments, BJP’s candidate from Amethi Smriti Irani criticised her opponent for failing to create jobs in his constituency.

“As per latest GoI MSME report on Amethi, there are 148 micro & small enterprise units employing only 593 people,” she tweeted.

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