Rahul Gandhi becomes ‘Bhakt’ for votes; visits 15 temples
Leaders are know to do everything for votes. Rahul Gandhi is one such example. Wearing a soft Hindutva facade, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday began his campaign as a ‘bhakt’ to woo the voters of Uttar Pradesh, who have spurned his party for 27 years, by visiting more than 15 temples and three gurdwaras. To shore up emptying fortunes of Congress in UP, Rahul’s visits have been rich in religious symbolism and the underlying effort to convey a political message.
However, Rahul Gandhi clearly did not want to lose Minorities vote. During his journey, Rahul also spent nearly an hour at the Riyazul Uloom-Guraini madrasa in Kheta Sarai area. Madarasas, especially in neighbouring Pakistan, have built an unsavoury reputation of being nurseries for jehadi terrorism.
Rahul Gandhi is not known to be overtly religious and Congressmen do not recall such a long list of religious places visited by a single party leader at one go. However, even Rahul realises that temples are integral to the Indian ethos and can help him get votes.
With this trip, Rahul probably aimed to change Congress’s somewhat unwanted image of a party that promotes Muslim and Christian interests over that of Hindus and Sikhs. The temples attempt to project that Congress’s secularism is not “anti Hindu”. Political circles has been hinting at a ‘Congress reset’ since Narendra Modi-led BJP’s victory in national elections.
While the first indication of a shift came in the form of veteran AK Antony’s post-2014 advice that Congress should remove the perception that it was tilted towards minorities, Rahul hinted at a makeover with an arduous trek to the Kedarnath shrine in April 2015, followed by trips to Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan and Kheer Bhawani temple in J&K.
But will Hindus and Sikhs be swayed by these temple visits and ignore Congress’s minority-leaning decisions during their decade-long central rule remains to be seen.