Soon after mother-son duo Maneka and Varun Gandhi were dropped from the National Executive of BJP, the central decision-making body, there was speculation that Varun would join his cousin Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra. There was a buzz that he might even show up at her Congress kissan rally in Varanasi. Though no such thing happened. His exclusion is attributed to his indiscreet utterances on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident that saw a hit-and-run accident and retaliatory lynchings, leaving eight dead. On his part Varun played down his exclusion by saying that he had never attended any of National Executive meetings in the last five years. However, BJP sources say, Varun’s activities have been under the radar of the top bosses for the last five years. In 2016, Varun had found himself embroiled in a major controversy after he was accused of leaking military secrets to an arms dealer and weapon manufacturers after being “honey-trapped.” Varun did toy with the idea of leaving BJP five years ago when Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka sent word through an intermediary. But eventually he decided to bide his time, fearing action over allegations, and also because of Maneka’s equations with Sonia. Sheltered during Vajpayee rule, now it looks likely that Maneka and Varun won’t get a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. And Maneka may not mind Varun joining hands with Priyanka. But, will Rahul welcome his cousin?