Is Rahul Gandhi a Hindu? Is Rahul Gandhi a Muslim? Is Rahul Gandhi a Christian? Is Rahul Gandhi a Sikh? Is Rahul Gandhi an atheist? So, these questions are more important in the lead up to the Gujarat elections than development, social unity, secularism and political pundits are debating whether or not religion plays a part in an election campaign than focusing on core issues of governance and development.
The whole controversy regarding Congress vice-president started when Rahul Gandhi went to Somnath temple in Gujarat to seek blessings and allegedly wrote his name in the register and signed himself as a non-Hindu. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ever charged up social media wing latched on to the issue and began giving certificate on Rahul Gandhi’s religion. Congress responded in style and said Gandhi is a devout Shiv bhakt and believes in Hinduism wholeheartedly.
India under its constitution is a secular country and every individual has a right of choice to choose his religion and state has no right to intervene. Gandhi for the past six months of touring Gujarat is temple hopping and proving that he is a proud Hindu and during every visit is telling BJP that he can also visit religious sites and BJP has no copyright over temples in India. Fair enough, but why suddenly this temple spree because Gandhi in the past has also visited mosques (read: Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal) when the elections were happening and was accused of minority appeasement and playing vote bank politics. So, if visiting mosques was vote bank politics than what does it mean when Gandhi visits temples? Is he now appeasing the majority community to garner and fetch votes for the 132-year-old party?
Rahul Gandhi is a seasoned parliamentarian and should understand that he cannot outmatch the Hindutva party (BJP) and should rather focus on questioning the regime of the saffron party on what they have done for the past twenty-two years while ruling Gujarat. Whoever is advising Gandhi must be aware that religion and politics should be kept separate and electorate of Gujarat is not naïve that he would be impressed by Rahul Gandhi’s religious awakening and would vote for the Congress. Elections in India are becoming extremely polarised and every party panders to some community depending upon the weightage and significance. Gandhi knows that Hindus are an important player in the state election and is playing to the gallery.
Congress often accuses BJP of being the hardline Hindutva party and BJP to their credit has not shied away from it. The Grand Old Party since the days of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has played the secular card to win elections, but most of the time it was quite blatant that it was appeasing a certain community and it cost them massively during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections according to the findings of the internal report of Congress. Gandhi should keep in mind that people are not fools and don’t believe in caste, race, religion, creed and the only thing the voter is interested in is improving the state of his life. India of the 21st century wants development, growth, and prosperity and if Congress wants to make inroads in Gujarat than Gandhi has to abandon the crutches of soft Hindutva and focus on real issues.