Rahul Gandhi is playing the so-called ‘soft Hindutva’ card these days ahead of Gujarat assembly elections by visiting various temples and offering prayers there. It is being seen as an attempt to appeal to the Hindu voters not yet divided on caste-lines, who are supposed to vote for the BJP.
However, if the attempt was to win Hindu votes and appeal to Hindu sentiments, the step appeared to be backfiring after there were reports that the Congress Vice President signed on a register meant for non-Hindu visitors while paying a visit to famous Somnath temple at Rajkot in Gujarat.
Around two years back in June 2015, it was reported that non-Hindu visitors would need to take permission from the office of general manager of Shree Somnath Trust before entering the Somnath Temple for darshan. It had been made mandatory to all non-Hindu pilgrims.
Today, there were multiple reports attributed to various local media organisations that suggested that Rahul Gandhi had signed on a register meant for non-Hindu visitors at the Somnatth temple. Incidentally, the renovation of the temple was opposed by Jawaharlal Nehru, the great grandfather of Rahul Gandhi.
Signature of local Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is considered very close to Sonia Gandhi, was also seen on the register, photos of which were shared on Twitter by many media organisations and journalists:
— Vikas Bhadauria ABP (@vikasbha) November 29, 2017
— chitralekha (@chitralekhamag) November 29, 2017
This was immediately taken up by BJP, with the party’s IT cell head Amit Malviya and Delhi unit spokesperson Tajinder Singh Bagga raising the issue over transparency of Rahul Gandhi’s religion:
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? pic.twitter.com/Igh5wxitkt
— Amit Malviya (@malviyamit) November 29, 2017
Rahul Gandhi Khan declared himself non hindu in Somanth Mandir Form. He left Hinduism for Votes, Now Hindus will leave him forever pic.twitter.com/2Only2tzEx
— Tajinder Bagga (@TajinderBagga) November 29, 2017
The issue was also raised by various Twitter users who were amused by this act of Rahul Gandhi:
He did that? I mean, really?
People’s religion should be nobody’s business but their own, but when you make a statement like “jo log mandir jaate hain, woh ladki chhed te hain”, then you do make your religious affiliation public business.
Sorry, Rahul G, but winter is coming. https://t.co/iMKiJdyZuU
— Abhinav Agarwal (@AbhinavAgarwal) November 29, 2017
On Odd days: Rahul Gandhi is a Shiv Bhakt
On even days: Rahul Gandhi is not a Hindu https://t.co/owMUtFcIun
— The Masakadzas (@Nesenag) November 29, 2017
WHAT?!? Zee Gujarati has just broken the news that Rahul Gandhi declared himself a non-Hindu in the Somnath Temple entry form.
The question is: Why is he visiting temples in case he is ashamed of calling himself a Hindu? Or has he secretly converted to his mother’s religion?
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) November 29, 2017
It’s not yet clear if Rahul Gandhi himself signed on the register or it was done by someone on his behalf. It is also not clear it is a goof-up or a genuine declaration of faith by Rahul Gandhi. Or whether there are another technicalities involved that might have led Rahul Gandhi’s name being included in that register reportedly meant for non-Hindu visitors.
Congress had not released any official statement on this development at the time of publishing this report.
UPDATE 1: As per the local news website DeshGujarat, Somnath temple trust has confirmed that the register was meant for non-Hindu visitors, and it was the media coordinator of Rahul Gandhi, Manoj Tyagi, who put the names of Ahmed Patel and Rahul Gandhi on the register. The statement has been attributed to the PRO of Somnath temple trust. Congress still has not reacted if it was wrong on the part of Tyagi to have added Rahul Gandhi’s name along with Ahmed Patel’s in the register.
UPDATE 2: Congress has reacted on the whole episode. This report contains details about their response.