Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi offering prayers at the Somnath Temple
Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi offering prayers at the Somnath Temple in Gujarat | PTI Photo
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Congress hits back with a photograph of the visitors’ register it said Rahul signed himself, and insists that he is a devout Hindu.
New Delhi: ‎The BJP sought to stoke a fresh controversy Wednesday over Rahul Gandhi’s ‘temple politics’  in Gujarat, claiming that the Congress vice-president signed the visitors’ register meant for non-Hindu visitors at the Somnath Temple.
The Congress shot back almost immediately with a photograph of the visitors’ register it said Rahul Gandhi signed himself, claiming that any other image was “fabricated”.
The BJP had based its claims on an image of another register containing Rahul Gandhi’s name but not his signature, it said.
“There is only one visitors’ register at Somnath Temple that was signed by the Congress VP Rahul Gandhi. Any other image being circulated is fabricated,” the Congress clarified.
The BJP went to town with insinuations about Gandhi’s faith, and his recent spate of temple visits as soon as the story was reported by TV news channels. Its IT head, Amit Malviya, took the lead, tweeting: “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?
Tweet by Amit Malviya on 29 November
He was soon followed by the BJP’s national spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao who slammed Gandhi across TV channels.
Bharat Pandya, spokesperson for the Gujarat BJP, said it was clear to people that Gandhi’s temple visits were a sham. “Nehru parivar ne Somnath temple ke punarnirman mein badha daali thi, aur BJP ne apni working committee ki meeting Somnath ke saannidhya mein ki, aur 150 seat ka sankalp kiya (Nehru family acted against the construction of the Somnath Temple, whereas we held our working group meeting under the shadow of Somnath Temple, pledging to win 150 seats),” said Pandya.
Pandya added that people now knew that the Gandhi family was ignorant about the ‘sanskriti of the country. “They don’t accept our existence, and have used words like ‘Hindu terrorism’. Now people know,” he said.
As the BJP went on a social media overdrive on the incident, Congress leaders joined issue, with some such as Deepender Hooda saying that Rahul Gandhi was a devout “Shiva bhakt”.
Tweet by the Congress handle on 29 November
Congress’s chief spokesperson R.S. Surjewala said: “Not only is Rahul Gandhi ji a Hindu, he is a ‘janeu dhari’ (sacred thread-wearing) Hindu. So BJP should not bring down the political discourse to this level.”
Tweet by Amit Malviya on 29 November
Second prong of attack
The BJP is watching Gandhi like a hawk on his travels through Gujarat, and his temple visits have been attacked by the ruling party.
Now, it seems to have launched a two-pronged attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family. In addition to questioning Rahul Gandhi’s faith, it is also questioning the Nehru-Gandhis’ past – in particular, Jawaharlal Nehru’s alleged objections to the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple.
Tweet by Amit Malviya on 29 November
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his rally in Gujarat, also attacked the Nehru-Gandhi family’s alleged objections to the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple.
Note: This report has been updated with new details and comments.

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