SOMNATH: The Somnath temple itself remained serene, untouched by the controversy raging outside. The main priest sat in puja as devotees filed past, pouring Ganga jal into a brass vessel. The sea around, lit in the afternoon sunlight, too showed no signs of turbulence. But the political sphere was in ferment, TV studios were crackling with noise and social media was on fire. All about a visitor to the temple: Rahul Gandhi.
The day was to bring a high-profile face-off between PM Narendra Modi and the Congress vice-president, both of whom descended on Somnath. But it degenerated into a noisy slugfest on Rahul’s identity, after news filtered out that his name had been entered in the register meant for non-Hindus at Somnath temple.
A storm soon built up as BJP figures lit into what seemed to have been a goof-up. TV anchors posed sharp questions and Twitter went into an overdrive.
What was trending there was not Modi’s rally at nearby Prachi, but a register that was apparently filled up by a Rahul aide while he entered the temple. Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia, who was part of the group that visited the temple, disputed even that. He told Express “no one from the Congress side filled up any register as it was not required”.
Narrating the sequence of events, he said Rahul did puja and parikrama with Ashok Gehlot, Bharatsinh Solanki and Modhwadia himself. “No one’s name was written in any register. As Rahul was leaving, the temple trustees came with the visitor’s book. He wrote very glowingly of the experience. Ahmed Patel was also present but there was no requirement to declare his entry also.”