NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding charges of pursuing "soft Hindutva" hurled at the Congress and its President Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka Gandhi is likely to begin her formal political career with a holy dip at the Sangam at the Kumbh Mela on February 4.
Priyanka Gandhi, who will take charge as the General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East that day, will be accompanied to the Kumbh by Rahul Gandhi, whose public zeal for Hinduism began with an April 2015 visit to the iconic Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand.
Also on February 4, Priyanka Gandhi will hold a press conference along with Rahul Gandhi in Lucknow.
According to informed sources, the Gandhis have zeroed in on February 4 for the holy dip on the occasion of "Mauni Amavasya" and the second "Shahi Snan".
But if they don't get a chance to take a holy dip on February 4, they will opt for February 10 on the occasion of Basant Panchami and the 3rd 'Shahi Snan".
This is perhaps the first time the two Gandhis will take a dip at the Sangam, where the Ganga and Yamuna meet the mythical Saraswati.
In 2001, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi had attended the Kumbh Mela and taken a holy dip.
During the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls in which the Congress gave a scare to the ruling BJP, Rahul Gandhi had embarked on several temple visits and continued the trend during elections in Karnataka, visiting over 20 major temples and mutts.
The Congress also came out claiming Gandhi to be a 'janeu dhari' Hindu, prompting criticism from the BJP.
And while performing prayers in Rajasthan, Gandhi revealed his 'gotra' as 'Dattatreya' -- and later introduced himself as Kaul Brahmin of Dattatreya gotra.
According to a recent India Today-Karvy Mood, 51 per cent respondents felt Gandhi's visits to temples challenges the BJP's Hindutva monopoly. But the Congress leader has also come under attack for pursuing what non-BJP critics say is "soft Hindutva".