Facing the charge of practising “soft Hindutva”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi today defended his visits to temples and religious places, asserting that he would continue it.
“I like going to temples, wherever I get religious place I go there. I feel good and feel happy, and I will continue (to go),” Gandhi told reporters here.
On a four-day election campaign in poll-bound Karnataka, Gandhi was responding to BJP state President B S Yeddyurappa’s “Election Hindu” jibe at him.
“I heartily welcome #ElectionHindu @OfficeOfRG to Ballari. The #Congress President will fulfill our dream of a #CongressMuktKarnataka,” Yeddyurappa had said in a tweet, ahead of Gandhi’s visit to the state from February 10.
Gandhi’s temple run in his election itinerary which began in the run-up to the Gujarat assembly polls, has invited the criticism from the BJP that it was an election exercise.
Union Minister and Karnataka election in charge Prakash Javadekar said Congress was earlier “pseudo secular” but are now “pseudo Hinduism.”
“They are changing brands. They were earlier pseudo secularists, now they are pseudo Hinduism. People understand which is an election gimmick and which is true devotion,” the minister said.
He claimed that Gandhi did not go to temples in Delhi when he was elected Congress president, which was the biggest day in his life.
“He goes to temples in Gujarat and Karnataka because there is election. So it is a vote gimmick. But people are not fools. In our country illiterate intelligence is very powerful. Robust common sense works and people understand who is a real devotee and who is an election devotee.”
He took a dig at the ruling Congress in Karnataka, saying that on the one hand its leaders are visiting temples and on the other, brought out a circular from taking and appropriating all temples, mutts, under endowment department.
Other critics have called it “soft Hindutva.”
During his current tour to north Karnataka, Gandhi visited Goddess Huligamma temple, a famous shrine in the region, and Gavi Siddheshwara Mutt, a mutt of the majority Lingayat community.
He also visited a Dargah in Raichur today.
In his brief interaction with reporters, Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yeddyurappa to inform people about the reasons why ministers during BJP rule in the state had to go to jail.
He said “Modiji comes here and speaks about corruption. Yeddyurappa is someone who had gone to jail and come.”
“When Yeddyurappa and Modiji speak about corruption, theyshould inform people that during BJP rule four ministers hadgone to jail, Yeddyurappa himself had gone to jail and 11 ministers had to resign.
Let them explain about it,” he said.
Gandhi again questioned the prime minister about the Rafale fighter jet deal, reiterating his charge that the contract was taken away from HAL and given to Modi’s “friend”.
“Why did you take away contract from HAL? Why did youtake away jobs from youth of Karnataka? Why did you do this togive it to your friend? What was the logic behind it?,” heasked.
Questioning whether the requisite permissions were taken from the cabinet committee on security, Gandhi asked what the aircraft’s price was.
“Earlier Defence minister said she will share the price details to the country. After three to four months she is saying the matter is a state secret. Was it not state secret earlier?,” he asked.
Attacking the Modi government for demonetisation and GST terming it as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax”, the congress leadersaid the measures have “shut” all businesses in the country.
He asked Modi to speak about how BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah made Rs 80 crore out of Rs 50,000 in three months.
Amit Shah has rejected the charge of corruption.
His son has filed a criminal defamation suit against the news portal which claimed his business fortunes had zoomed after BJP came to power in 2014.