NEW DELHI: A regular entry Rahul Gandhi made while visiting the Somnath temple in Gujarat snowballed into a huge political slug controversy with the BJP raising questions over his religion and the Congress dismissing it as saffron party’s attempt to malign the leader.
Rahul is on a two-day visit to Gujarat to campaign for the Congress ahead of the December assembly polls. Rahul, who started his Gujarat poll campaign from Dwarka temple in September, has visited several temples across the state over the past weeks. While the BJP accused him of playing the soft-Hindutva card, the Congress retorted there was nothing wrong in going to a temple. Unaffected by the Somnath controversy, Rahul will visit the Gopinathji temple in Gadhada on November 30.
Amit Malviya, IT cell head of BJP tweeted: “Finally Rahul Gandhi comes clean on his religion, signs visitor register in Somnath (as per rule) meant for non-Hindus. If he isn’t a Hindu by faith, let alone a practicing one, then why has he been fooling people with these temple visits?”
Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala hit back accusing the BJP of playing petty politics to gain in the state elections. “The BJP is worried in Gujarat. Hence, it is playing such dirty tricks,” he said.
“Rahulji is a Hindu and one who wears the sacred thread. Rahulji only signed the visitors’ register and the entry being shown by the BJP is a fake one. That page was empty and was only signed by media coordinator Manoj Tyagi to facilitate entry of mediapersons,” said Surjewala.
The Congress released to the media photocopies of the entry made by Rahul in the visitors’ book where he wrote that Somnath was a very inspiring place.
The BJP cited a 1998 New York Times article which said that Rahul and his sister Priyanka were raised as Roman Catholics. “This was never denied. Did Rahul Gandhi convert to Hinduism there after? @OfficeOfRG please clarify. It's not a personal issue any longer,” Malviya tweeted.
“On an earlier occasion Birendra, the then king of Nepal, had shot down Sonia Gandhi’s request to enter the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu because non-Hindus are not allowed. If the Gandhis are not Hindus then why hoodwink the nation? Just for votes?,” he tweeted further.
“Ambassador Meera Shankar, UPA’s representative in US, had referred to Sonia Gandhi as a Christian leader. The reference was soon deleted. Now Rahul Gandhi declares he is a non-Hindu but their election affidavits claim that they are Hindus. Gandhis lying about their faith?,” BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao tweeted.
While the Congress released pictures of Rahul Gandhi wearing the sacred thread worn by class Hindus during important rituals related to naming of a child, marriage and last rites, to show his lineage, BJP vice president Vinay Sahashrabuddhe accused the Gandhi family of being casteist.
“Is it not the cat that has come out of the bag? This is crass casteism. Superiority of a family underscored through superiority of a caste group! Not surprising that Dr. Ambedkar was opposed by the Congress,” Sahashrabuddhe tweeted.