After Gujarat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to take forward his ‘Temple Run’ in Karnataka as well. As per recent media reports, Rahul Gandhi’s schedule during the first leg of his upcoming Karnataka trip as part of his campaign ahead of elections in the state includes visits to at least four religious places. Among key stops on the schedule are places with a Hindu temple, two Lingayat religious centres, and a Muslim dargah. Notably, Rahul is scheduled to tour the districts of Bellary, Koppal, Raichur, Yadgir, Gulbarga and Bidar, in northernmost parts of the state, from February 10 to 13.
In a bid to lure the Lingayat community, Rahul will cover the territory inhabited by them. It is worth mentioning here that Lingayat community forms a substantial voter population in the state and the community is currently making efforts to drift from Hinduism to a religion of its own. Not to forget, B S Yeddyurappa, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate and state unit chief, also comes from the community.
The Congress state unit has denied deliberately including temple visits in Rahul Gandhi’s schedule, but a look at his schedule makes it evident that his stops have been carefully chosen. The first religious stop designated for Rahul during the first leg of his tour is at Huligamma Temple in Koppal district and the second being Gavisiddeshwara Mutt, is a prominent Lingayat monastery in the same district. Rahul is also expected to visit Khwaja Bande Nawaz Dargah in Gulbarga district and Anubhava Mantapa — at Basavakalyan in Bidar district.
This can be seen as a continuation of his electoral campaign in Gujarat, where he paid visits to many temples in an apparent bid to woo Hindu voters. Though Congress lost Gujarat, it the gains it made in the election appears to have cemented the idea of gaining traction through Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits. State Congress president G Parameshwara, while announcing Rahul’s tour programme, said, “It is not a form of soft Hindutva but inclusive Hindutva that we (Congress party) follow.”