Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Monday said the party was not trying to portray a “soft Hindutva” face when Rahul Gandhi visited temples during the campaign for the Gujarat elections. He said the Congress never had any intention to play a “Hindu card”. “That was their (BJP’s) intention. Congress never wanted to play a Hindu card… There was no intention of soft Hindutva behind it,” Patel said in an interview to NDTV news channel.
He said during the campaign Rahul Gandhi travelled more through roads, and hence visited several temples.
On about the Congress’ statement that Rahul Gandhi is a “janeu-dhari Hindu”, he said: “After Somnath temple… whatever register they gave he signed. They twisted it as if he is non-Hindu. Therefore Congress party had to counter it.”
Patel said during the campaigning, the then party Vice President Rahul Gandhi got a good response from the people of Gujarat, and that in certain places “he was attracting more crowd than Narendra Modi”.
He also said that his being the Chief Minister of Gujarat was “out of the question”.
“I have always been low-profile… I don’t have any ambition for any government post, I have never been a Minister. It is all propaganda… these were gimmicks of Narendra Modi…” Patel said.
Patel alleged that the BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for the past 22 years, misused the administration to influence elections, and also distributed liquor.
“The way they spent money, not just money but liquor as well. They even misused the administration,” he said.
Asked if Rahul Gandhi, who was made Congress President on Saturday, had emerged as a hero after the results, Patel said the poll was more about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah’s prestige.
“Gujarat is the home turf of the Prime Minister. It is the state of BJP’s national president. It is a prestige issue for them, they can’t lose this state,” he said.
To a question on whether Sonia Gandhi will continue in active politics or retire, Patel refused to answer.
“This question only she can answer… When elections come up in Rae Bareli she will decide,” he said.