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Rahul Gandhi visits 11 temples; it’s not natural: BJP

Author: Aman Sharma
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: November 14, 2017
URL:   https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/rahul-gandhi-visits-11-temples-its-not-natural-bjp/articleshow/61635175.cms

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the Vir Meghmaya Temple in Patan, Bahucharji Temple in Mehsana and Khotidyar Temple in Varana on Monday, on the last day of the fourth leg of his Gujarat Yatra, making it a total of 11 temple visits in 50 days since his campaign began in the poll-bound state in September.

The temple visits in Gujarat have surpassed similar efforts in UP during his ‘Deoria to Delhi’ Kisan Yatra last year before the UP polls. He started off with a visit to Ayodhya’s Hanuman Garhi Temple and later visited Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple and Chi t rakoot ’s Kamalnath Temple. After striking an alliance with SP, Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav jointly paid obeisance at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi at the fag end of the UP campaign.

During that yatra across UP, however, Gandhi also visited Deoband, the Jama Masjid in Moradabad, the Jama Masjid in Allahabad, the Nadwa Madrasa in Lucknow, the Dargahe-Ala Hazrat in Bareilly and the St Joseph Cathedral in Lucknow.

In Gujarat, Gandhi has not visited any Muslim place of worship yet, leading to political chatter that the Congress VP was trying to appeal to the majority Hindu population. The party is often accused by its main rival, BJP, of indulging in ‘Muslim appeasement’.

“It is a different scenario in Gujarat. In UP, the attempt was to reach out to all communities and the temple visits by Rahul Gandhi generated lot of interest, especially the Ayodhya visit, till the Congress alliance with SP negated all that effort, since SP was seen as heavily inclined towards the minorities,” one of the Congress MLAs in UP told ET on the condition of anonymity.

Gandhi’s choice of temples in Gujarat been determined by nostalgia and caste considerations. Like Ambaji Temple in Bansakantha is from where Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi began their Gujarat campaigns. Akshardham has lots of Patidar followers. A Congress leader involved in the strategy said the same is working as BJP is irked by Rahul’s temple visits and its senior leaders were attacking him.

“Going to mandir should be a ‘swabhavik dharma’ and not a ‘chunavi karma’ for Rahul Gandhi. Why has he never visited the Akshardham Temple in Delhi or the Katyani Temple located in Delhi near his farmhouse,” asked BJP national general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Bhupendra Yadav.
 
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