The Shiv Sena today said that the Gujarat Assembly poll campaign had transformed Rahul Gandhi into a leader and that the Congress vice-president’s temple visits was a “win for Hindutva”, which the BJP should welcome. Gandhi has been campaigning extensively in the election- bound state, where the first phase of polling will take place on Saturday. He has visited a number of temples in Gujarat, which his party believes would help counter the Hindutva platform of its rival. “The election, which is touted by the BJP to be a sure win, seems to have tired Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as it has turned Rahul Gandhi into a leader,” the Sena, a long-time but often bickering partner of the BJP, said in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ here. “The polls have proved that Rahul Gandhi is not a Pappu anymore. The BJP should have a big heart and accept this,” the party said.
The position of the Congress across the country is bad, the Sena noted, adding “Gandhi will have to carve a way out of the dense fog of vilification and political maze the BJP has created for the party.” “The BJP is even angry with Rahul Gandhi for his visits to temples and offering prayers. On the contrary, it should be welcomed. Rahul Gandhi visiting temples is a win of Hindutva. If he is taking the party towards Hindutva from bogus secularism, the Sangh should welcome it,” the Sena said. Taking a dig at Modi for dubbing Gandhi’s expected elevation as Congress president as “Aurangzeb Raj”, the Sena said, “Such comments prove that the prime minister considers Rahul Gandhi an opponent and that he has become an able leader.”