Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of continuously telling lies as he kicked off his two-day tour of Uttar Pradesh with a visit to a Hanuman temple en route Amethi from Lucknow on Monday – apparently in a bid to appeal to appeal to Hindu sentiments. Gandhi offered prayers at the Churva Hanuman Mandir on the Lucknow-Rae Bareli road hours after landing in Lucknow.
Gandhi was greeted by enthusiastic party workers who welcomed him with garlands. A local party worker told news agency PTI that the Congress leader regularly visits Amethi – his Lok Sabha constituency – and this is perhaps for the first time that he has offered prayers at the temple. This is Gandhi’s first visit to UP after taking charge as Congress president.
After offering prayers, the 47-year-old came out of the temple sporting a bright ’tilak’ on his forehead, the agency reported. Rahul’s visit to Rae Bareli– his mother’s parliamentary constituency, and adjoining Amethi, is being viewed as a strategic move by the Congress leadership to counter the hardline image of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The Congress leader spent some ten minutes at the temple.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted in Salon region where Gandhi was attending an event, prompting police to intervene. BJP MLA Dal Bahadur Kori said the cadres were attacked by Congress workers.
On September 9, 2016, when Gandhi visited Hanuman Garhi temple in Ayodhya, he became the first member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to visit the holy city since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
Gandhi’s temple-hopping made headlines during campaigning for Gujarat elections when he visited a number of holy places in Gujarat.
He had visited around 20 temples across the state during the Assembly poll campaign. After the results were out, the Congress president prayed at the Somnath Temple. Notably, the Congress was not able to wrest Gujarat from BJP but Rahul’s temple visits paid dividends as the grand old party’s vote share rose by 2.5 per cent from 39 per cent in 2012 to 41.5 per cent.