The latest issues that the ruling BJP in Gujarat has taken up to pull down the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi is religion. The Congress Vice President began with his two-day tour to the poll-bound state by offering prayers at the famed Somnath Temple.
During the visit to the temple, somehow, Rahul’s and Gujarat Rajya Sabha member, Ahmed Patel’s name came to be written in the non-Hindu visitor’s register. Taking this as an opportunity in their favour, the BJP sparked a row over this matter raising question on the religion of Rahul.
The Congress, however, clarified that that Rahul had only signed in visitor’s book and nowhere else, this was a conspiracy that the BJP was raising deliberately, to harm the image of Congress ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections.
Rahul Gandhi himself also, while addressing the traders in a closed-door meeting in Gujarat’s Amreli on 30 November, said that religion was an entirely private matter and there was no need to publicise it.
He asserted that “My grandmother (the late Indira Gandhi) and my family are Shiv Bhakts. But we keep such things private. We generally do not speak about them. Because we think it is a very personal matter and we don’t need anyone else’s certificate about it. We do not want to commercialize this thing. We don’t want to do ‘dalali’ over it. We do not want to use it for political purposes too.”
Also giving details about that day’s incident, Rahul said that he went inside the temple and then signed the visitor’s book, where he wrote ‘a very inspiring place’. He further added that after that some BJP member wrote his name in the non-Hindu register.
While Gujarat Congress in charge Ashok Gehlot, also came up to support the Congress Vice President saying that religion was a personal matter and unlike the BJP, Congress does not use it for political gains.
#RahulGandhi ji rightly says, religion is a personal matter n it should not be used as a political tool. Unfortunately BJP leaders use religion only for gaining political mileage. #GujaratElection2017https://t.co/vJwogL9NZr
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) November 30, 2017
While, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, indicated that BJP may be behind the entire scandal in an attempt to spoil the image of Congress and the rising response it is getting from the people. He underlined that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP party President Amit Shah are among the trustees of the temple and it is possible that their influence might have got the names of Rahul and Ahmed Patel in the non-Hindu register.
However, the BJP is denying the allegations of being involved in the conspiracy saying that the aide who wrote the name in the non-Hindu resister is from the Congress and the party should clarify it rather than blaming others.
As per the latest updates on the religion row, another statement has come forward which has raised questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi being a Hindu. Senior Congress leader and former law minister, Kapil Sibal said that Narendra Modi is not a Hindu.
Kapil Sibal in his conversation with the press questioned the Prime Minister, whether he visits the temples daily? Making scathing attackes on Modi, he said that only the person who respects the ethics of Hinduism can respect the Hindu religion. He further alleged that Narendra Modi has left the Hindu religion and has adopted Hindutva.
Sibal said that Hindutva does not have anything to do with the Hindu religion and that Modi is not a Hindu. He further taking a jibe at Modi added that “a real Hindu believes every Indian to be his brother, sister or mother, who does not speak anything that hurts the sentiments of the people, one who stands up against violence right at that point and not after three months, who does not play politics in every matter, especially when it is related to the rights of the people and he is a real Hindu, who listens to the issues of the farmers.”
Responding to the statement of Kapil Sibal, BJP spokesperson, Nalin Kohli said that “what a strange comment comes from Sibal to say that Modi is not a Hindu. This is the same like his famous zero lost theory, this is a zero-argument. He further added that the zero lost theory of Kapil Sibal was rejected by the Supreme Court, which canceled all the licenses in the famous 2G scam. “Just like that today he has come up with a zero argument, without any foundation.
The BJP spokesperson in his statement to the media said that “ultimately the question comes, why did Rahul Gandhi’s associate go to Somnath Temple in the register for non-Hindu, write that Rahul will be coming? This has to be explained by the Congress, it is not a conspiracy by the BJP. He also added that Rahul Gandhi is entitled under the constitution to be of any religion, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or anything else, it does not matter. He questioned that “Why to try to pretend what you are not, and such questions are bound to come up when you yourself are saying that you are not a Hindu?”
He also highlighted the fact that back in 1998, in an article in New York Times, it was stated that Sonia Gandhi is a Catholic Christian and Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are also Catholics, nobody has ever denied it.
The Congress may have to pay a heavy price for the questions that are being raised over the religion of Rahul Gandhi, just a few days ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections. The first phase of the pols will be held on 9 Dec and the second phase will go to polls on 14 Dec. The results will be announced on 18 Dec.