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?
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”.
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.”
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.
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.
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.