In Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi peddles soft Hindutva to reach voters’ hearts

CHOTILA (RAJKOT): Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s three-day blazing tour+ of the politically significant Saurashtra region was not only aimed at targeting PM Narendra Modi over issues like note ban and GST but also an attempt to help his party counter ‘anti-Hindu’ and ‘minority appeasers’ labels emblazoned on it by the BJP.
Along with hard-hitting speeches targeting Modi, Gandhi also played with `soft Hindutva’ by paying obeisance in five temples+ and performing aartis at a garba venue each in Jamnagar and Rajkot in three days. Gandhi, who began by visiting Lord Krishna temple in Dwarka on September 25, wrapped up the tour by climbing nearly 1,000 steep steps to Chamunda Mata temple on Chotila hill-top on Wednesday . He also visited Khodaldham in Kagvad village where Leuva Patels have built a grand temple of their community deity Khodal Ma and was closeted in a meeting with the temple trustees for around 20 minutes. After he offered prayers at Chotila, the priests apprised him of the importance of the religious place. On his way back to Rajkot, Gandhi made an unscheduled visit to the Jalaram Bapa temple in Virpur too. Later, the Congress leader came out of the temple and climbed down the steps in another 15 minutes, greeting devotees on his way back.

State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi alleged that the BJP and RSS have deliberately painted the party as antiHindu and the temple visits were aimed at countering this assault. All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson, Shatkisinh Gohil, told TOI: “Congress has equal respect for all religions. When Indira Gandhi made a comeback after post-emergency elections, she visited the Ambaji temple. We are also confident of making a comeback in Gujarat after 22 years and therefore Rahulji is also taking blessings in the temples.”

State BJP president Jitu Vaghani, said, “Rahul Gandhi doesn’t know how to do darshan or aarti in garba. He went to a garba event on Tuesday , but did not know how to perform the aarti.Embarrassed Congress leaders had to help him. This shows how Congress is making hollow efforts to attract voters when elections are nearing.”
On Wednesday, Gandhi+ also made an unscheduled stop at Dasi Jivan temple in Ghoghavadar village near Gondal where Dalits go for worshipping. The temple is dedicated to the 19th century Dalit poet who wrote against casteism and social inequality . When asked about the closed-door meeting, Khodaldham trustee Dinesh Chovatiya said, “Rahulji was planning to visit Virpur and our community people wanted him to see Kagvad temple too. We requested him and he agreed promptly.”