Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today began his three-day tour of north Gujarat ahead of the assembly polls next month and visited two of the most famous temples in the state- Ambaji temple and Akshardham temple. His visit to the temples triggered a war of words between the BJP and the opposition Congress, with the ruling party alleging that he is visiting temples just to garner votes, while the Congress hit back, saying the BJP does not have a “patent” on devotion. After his arrival this morning, Gandhi went straight to Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, offered prayers to Lord Swaminarayan and launched his three-day tour of the region, which will cover six districts. Akshardham temple belongs to the Swaminarayan sect, that has a huge following among the Patel community, which the Congress is trying to woo ahead of the December 9 and 14 state polls.
At night, Gandhi visited famous Goddess Amba temple at Ambaji in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat.
Rahul performed aarti and pooja at the temple amid chanting of ‘Jai Ambe Maa’ by party workers and devotees. The BJP criticised the move, saying Gandhi is visiting Hindu temples just ahead of elections to get votes. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said, “Why is Rahul Gandhi visiting temples only ahead of elections. People know their intention that they want to get votes through such gimmicks. They have no inclination for devotion as during Rahul Gandhi’s earlier trips, he never visited any temple.”
“We wish that Congress sheds its pseudo-secularism and respects mainstream Hindutva. But their gimmicks to get votes will not work in Gujarat,” Patel added. The Congress hit back the BJP, saying people will teach the ruling party a lesson as it is opposing a visit to temple. “Does anybody have a patent on devotion? They are opposing a visit to the temple. People of Gujarat will teach them a lesson,” Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said. “Rahul Gandhiji has visited a Jain temple and gurudwaras apart from Hindu temples. We believe in secularism,” he said. Gandhi had started his campaign in Gujarat with a visit to the renowned Dwarkadheesh temple in September.