NEW DELHI: A controversy broke out on Wednesday over Rahul Gandhi ‘s visit to Gujarat’s famed Somnath temple , after his name was reportedly listed in the register of non-Hindu visitors.
Congress party’s media coordinator Manoj Tyagi made the alleged goof-up on Wednesday when Rahul Gandhi was paying a visit to the Somnath temple ahead of a two-day campaign tour in the poll-bound state. While writing the name of Congress MP Ahmed Patel, who was also part of Rahul’s entourage, in the special register for non-Hindus visiting the temple, Tyagi also jotted down the Congress vice-president’s name.
A famous pilgrim place of Lord Shiva, the Somnath temple is barred to non-Hindus, who must obtain permission from the temple authorities to enter the sacred place.
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While Rahul offered prayers at the Somnath temple earlier this afternoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing a public rally at Prachi, a town barely 25 kms away from the temple.
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Taking a swipe at Rahul for his stopover at Somnath temple, PM Modi remarked that his great-grandfather and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had been opposed to the building of the shrine.
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“Today some people are remembering Somnath, I have to ask them – Have you forgotten your history? Your family members, our first Prime Minister, was not happy with the idea of a temple being built there,” PM Modi said at a rally in nearby Prachi.
The ancient temple was already the cynosure of media attention owing to the high profile campaign rallies scheduled in its vicinity on Wednesday. At such a time, Tyagi’s flub was posted on social media, where it went viral. ‘Somnath temple’ quickly rose to the list of top trends on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia dismissed the incident as a storm in a teacup and panned the BJP for questioning Rahul’s faith over the matter, while also insisting that Rahul Gandhi was unaware of the error.
“Rahul Gandhi did puja as a Hindu in Somanth temple. When his media coordinator wrote down Ahmed Patel’s name in the special register, temple authorities asked who will be accompanying Ahmedbhai. So he wrote down Rahul ji’s name. Rahul ji was not even aware of such an entry in any register,” Modhwadia told TOI.
The Congress party’s official Twitter handle later issued a clarification stating that Rahul only signed the temple’s visitors book and the other images being circulated were “fabricated”.
Clarification: There is only one visitor’s book at Somnath Temple that was signed by Congress VP Rahul Gandhi. Any… https://t.co/yOMGkEPpjd
— Congress (@INCIndia) 1511958419000
“Rahul ji doesn’t require the BJP’s certificate for his faith. The BJP has been exposed on their so called development claims so now they’re trying to divert people’s attention by raising such non issues,” Modhwadia added.
The temple administration said Rahul’s name was written in the shrine’s register for non-Hindus by his media coordinator and maintained none of its staff was involved in the entire episode, reported PTI.
Rahul’s visit to the Somnath temple is the latest in a long line of temple tours over the last few weeks as part of his Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra . The Gandhi scion has faced fire from the BJP for these pilgrimages, which the saffron party claims are a pre-poll stunt to garner votes.
Both the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi are on a campaign blitzkrieg in Gujarat , which goes to polls in two phases on December 9 and 14.
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