Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, on Sunday defended his party’s stand on Varun Gandhi’s alleged hate speech and its refusal to deny him Lok Sabha ticket, saying the party stand was “legally correct and in accordance with the Constitution.”

At the end of a press conference on unaccounted money in Swiss banks and other tax havens, Mr. Advani took only a few questions on the events surrounding the party’s Pilibhit candidate. He said: “Varun has said the tapes [of his hate speeches] were doctored. The party has taken a legally correct stand and it is in accordance with the Constitution.”

He said the Election Commission had no jurisdiction to direct the party or suggest to it that it deny ticket to Mr. Gandhi. “It is for the first time that such an advice was given by the EC to a political party,” Mr. Advani said.

He said he would advise all party candidates to be restrained in their speech and follow the Model Code of Conduct, even as he blamed the media for making the Varun Gandhi issue a major news story.

Asked whether he and the BJP believed the word of Mr. Gandhi that the tapes were doctored or the considered view of the three-man Election Commission, which declared Varun Gandhi guilty of making the hate speeches, he replied: “I have nothing to add to what I have already said.”

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