NEW DELHI: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is going temple hopping in poll-bound Gujarat to send a subtle message among the voters.
While Rahul prayed at the well-known Lord Krishna temple in Dwarka before launching his poll yatra on Monday, he will visit the Shree Khodaldham temple, Kagvad in district Rajkot on Wednesday. According to AICC sources, the temple visits en route the yatra have been carefully planned to send a positive message to the voters in the state which has been under the BJP rule for the past 19 years.
As Gujarat continues to be identified with PM Narendra Modi, who was chief minister of the state for three terms, Congress managers are not taking any chances. Citing reasons, party insiders said that though Rahul has been accusing Modi of playing divisive politics over the past years, he also wants to send the right signals to the majority community in the western state.
In June this year, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani got an opportunity to target Rahul after a Youth Congress leader from Kerala publicly slaughtered a cow to challenge a central law. Sensing trouble, Rahul quickly removed the state leader but the damage had been done. “We don’t wasn’t to give the BJP another chance to bash us,” said a senior Gujarat Congress leader.
Aware that Lord Krishna is a popular deity in Gujarat and “Jai Shri Krishna” a common form of greeting across the state, Congress strategists are also trying to paint the coming electoral battle resembling the epic Mahabharat of sorts to gain sympathy of the voters.
Making a comparison with the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls this year, sources in the party said Rahul had visited both temples and mosques during similar yatras ahead of polls to project a secular image of the party. While only temple visits have been factored in during the phase one of Gujarat yatra, a visit to a mosque may be scheduled in the coming weeks, the sources added.