Facing flak on social media, and from some Gujarat BJP leaders, after news emerged that Rahul Gandhi’s name was entered in a register meant for “non-Hindu” visitors at Gujarat’s Somnath temple, the Congress on Wednesday said the party vice-president is a Hindu who wears the sacred thread, and dismissed reports on the entry in contention as “fraud’’ and a “conspiracy’’ by the BJP and a “section of the media”.
Clarifying the issue before the media, Congress’s communication in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Rahul Gandhi is not only a Hindu, but a ‘janeu-dhari’ Hindu (one who wears the sacred thread).”
Surjewala said that when Rahul was leaving the temple, a temple employee came up to him to make an entry in the visitors’ book. The Congress vice-president wrote “Rahul Gandhi, 12 Tughlak Lane, New Delhi’’ in the column meant for name and address, and “A very inspiring place” in the column for comments and signed below it, Surjewala said.
He said Rahul did not write in any other register. “His signature in another register is fake and a conspiracy,” Surjewala said. Pointing out that the entry in the other register reads “Rahul Gandhi ji’’, besides naming Ahmed Patel, Surjewala asked, “Why will he write ‘Rahul Gandhi ji’ (for his own name)?”
Pravin Laheri, secretary of the Shree Somnath trust, which runs the temple, told The Indian Express, “We have a rule that all non-Hindus have to enter their names in a register. Somebody entered the names of Ahmed Patel (Congress MP) and Rahul Gandhi in this register. The temple has nothing to do with it.”
Former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel is chairman of Somnath temple trust, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP veteran L K Advani and party president Amit Shah are among the trust members.
In New Delhi, Congress leader Deepinder Hooda said there is only one visitors’ book at Somnath temple, which Rahul signed, and any other image being circulated is fabricated. “The whole country knows that Rahul Gandhi is a staunch Shiv ‘bhakt’, and he (thus) believes in the path of truth and truth is with us. So we shall prevail,” he told the media.
Surjewala said Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot, state unit president Bharatsinh Solanki and senior leaders Arjun Modhwadia, Siddharth Patel and Rajiv Satav had accompanied Rahul to Somnath temple.