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Congress says Rahul didn’t sign register for non-Hindus at Somnath, blames BJP

On a two-day campaign tour to poll-bound Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi visited the famous Somnath temple --- dedicated to Hindu god Shiva --- in the afternoon.

assembly elections Updated: Nov 29, 2017 23:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at the Somnath Temple in Gujarat on Wednesday. (PTI)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Somnath temple on Wednesday got engulfed in a controversy after his name was found written on the entry register for non-Hindus.

The Congress called the entry “fake” and the BJP said the leader should declare his religious faith publicly.

The Congress accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy against its leader and insisted Gandhi declared himself as a Shiv Bhakt and is a “janeu-dhari” Hindu — one who wears a sacred thread.

The BJP dismissed the conspiracy charge as baseless, saying Gandhi’s aide signed the register.

A purported photocopy of the page of the register for non-Hindus with names of Gandhi and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel written on it went viral on social media soon after their visit.

The signature against their names was that of the Congress party media coordinator Manoj Tyagi.

The temple administration said Gandhi’s name was written on the register for non-Hindus by his media coordinator and maintained none of its staff was involved in the entire episode.

As the controversy raged, the temple management came out with a clarification.

“As per our rules, names of non-Hindus have to be registered. His name was registered by his media coordinator on our non-Hindu register,” he said.

Non-Hindus are allowed to visit the temple but have to register at the shrine’s office.

“In 2015, the Somnath trust has made a rule for mandatory entry of non-Hindu visitors in a register,” said Somnath trust manager Vijaysinh Chavda.

The trust is headed by former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel. The trustees include Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP stalwart LK Advani.

In an official press note, Somnath trust mentioned that Gandhi was presented a picture of the presiding deity and a shawl by the temple. After offering prayers, he visited the Sardar Patel gallery and paid a tribute to the freedom fighter.

A screenshot of the visitor’s book shared by the temple trust has remarks made by Gandhi at the end. It reads: “A very inspiring place.”

Gandhi has so far visited more than 20 temples in Gujarat since starting the poll campaign for the state this September. The BJP has mocked at his temple visits.

According to the schedule for the two-phase elections, 89 seats in Saurashtra and south Gujarat will go to the polls on December 9.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 19:11 IST