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Published On: Wed, Nov 29th, 2017

Rahul Listed As ‘Non-Hindu’ Visitor At Somnath Temple , BJP Questions His Faith

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rahul-gandhi-somnath-temple-650_650x400_71511957419NEW DELHI / AHMEDABAD: News that Rahul Gandhi registered as a “non-Hindu” visitor at the famous Somnath temple in Gujarat today was chalked up by the Congress to a BJP conspiracy ahead of polls in the state.
Rahul Gandhi’s temple run in poll-bound Gujarat hit a landmine on Wednesday after his name was “entered” in a register for non-Hindus at the Somnath Temple, prompting the BJP to question his faith and the Congress to allege mischief.rahul-gandhi-signature-somnath-temple_650x116_61511958737
The Congress Vice-President’s name was entered as “Rahul Gandhiji” above that of Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel in the book, which all non-Hindu visitors to the revered shrine are supposed to fill up, and this was signed by the party’s media coordinator Manoj Tyagi.
As the BJP pounced on the purported gaffe with glee to question the Congress leader’s poll-time visits to temples in Gujarat, Tyagi told that he had only signed the register and left the columns vacant for entering the names of visiting mediapersons and that the names of Patel and Gandhi were entered by “someone else.”

According to the rules of the ancient temple, non-Hindus have to sign on a register before entering inside. Tyagi’s contention was that he never knew the book he was signing was for that purpose, and that in any case he did not write the names of the two Congress leaders.
An entry in another book for visitors at the temple showed that Gandhi had signed under the comment “a very inspiring place”. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy immediately latched on to it saying Gandhi “is a Christian and that he goes to church every Sunday.”

Congress leaders then went on an overdrive, with Randeep Surjewala pointing out that Gandhi is “not only a Hindu, a janeu-dhari Hindu”. “His sister got married in a Hindu ceremony and Rahul Gandhi conducted the last rites of his father according to the Hindu tradition,” Surjewala added.

“We have no qualms in saying that Rahul Gandhi is a Hindu. BJP should not bring down the political discourse to this level,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala lashed out.

The Congress leader’s visit to temples in the election bound state — he has prayed at as many as 12 temples over the last two months — has been mocked by BJP with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising it in his election rally speeches. Gandhi so far has sought to deflect all such talk saying he is a “shiv bhakt”.

Other party spokespersons also hit out saying the BJP was resorting to such controversies because it sensed defeat in Gujarat. “Every leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party has been criticising Rahul Gandhi’s visits to temples while on his Navsarjan Yatra. This is politics of the lowest possible kind,” Sanjay Jha said.

PK Lakheri, a trustee of the Somnath Temple, clarified: “Apparently, the name of Ahmed Patel had to be written by the person in the register, but he wrote two names. Whether the name of Rahul Gandhi was written inadvertently or whether it was written correctly, is for the media team of the Congress to clarify.

The apparent “slip” ignited a storm on Twitter with ‘Somnath Temple’ emerging as one of the top trends of the day. An array of Congress leaders put out emphatic denials and accused the ruling BJP of circulating a “fake entry” to discredit their boss-designate.

At the start of a two-day campaign in the crucial Saurashtra region, the Congress vice president visited the renowned temple along with Ahmed Patel and others.  A media coordinator, Manoj Tyagi, apparently signed in for the whole group in a register meant for non-Hindus, who need special permission to visit the temple. The Congress alleges that the name “Rahul Gandhiji” was added by the BJP.
Skewered on social media, the Congress produced a screenshot of Rahul Gandhi’s handwritten note in the visitors’ book as proof that he had nothing to do with the register entry.  Amping up their campaign in Gujarat, both PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi crisscrossed the western part of the state, which accounts for over 50 seats in the 182-member assembly.
As Rahul Gandhi was offering prayers at the Somnath temple, PM Modi, addressing an election around 25 km away, sought to remind him that Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister and his great-grandfather, had opposed the renovation of Somnath.

“If there was no Sardar Patel, the temple in Somnath would never have been possible. Today some people are remembering Somanth, I have to ask them – Have you forgotten your history? Your family members, our first Prime Minister, was not happy with the idea of a temple being built there,” said the Prime Minister.

Rahul Gandhi has visited several temples over the last few weeks as part of his “Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra”. The ruling BJP has ripped into his “temple run” as a sign of desperation in a state where the Congress has been out of power for over two decades. Responding to criticism, the Congress leader said: “I am a devotee of Lord Shiva. Let them say whatever they want to say. My truth is with me”. (With Agency Inputs ).

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