Unfazed by criticism, Rahul visits Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad

Unfazed by the criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over his temple visits in Gujarat, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday visited Jagannath Temple here and offered prayers.

According to the temple's priest Dilip Das, Rahul performed pooja (obeisance) as per the traditional rituals of the temple and sought Lord Jagannath's blessings.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also accompanied Rahul.

While campaigning for the Congress party in the Gujarat assembly elections, Rahul has been visiting various temples. The BJP has been targeting Rahul over his temple visits and terms it as political move to woo Hindu votes.

Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in Totana that Rahul Gandhi should make it clear whether he wants a Ram Temple in Ayodhya or not.

Talking to ANI, the UP Chief Minister said, "The Gujarat election has done two things: it has taught former prime minister Manmohan Singh to speak and Rahul Gandhi to visit temples. But, Rahul should clear his stand whether he wants Ram Temple in Ayodhya or not."

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya is century old point of tussle between Hindus and Muslims.

After the mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, the Hindus want to build a Ram Temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi (birth place of Lord Rama).

This is not the first time the newly elected Congress President has come under the attack of the BJP over his temple visits.

During his visit to Somnath Temple on November 29, a controversy erupted after Rahul's name along with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was allegedly mentioned as non-Hindus in the visitor book of the temple.

Sensing the damage the news could do in majority Hindu state like Gujarat during the elections, the Congress came up with a claim that Rahul Gandhi is a janeu-dhari (the one who wears Brahminical thread) Hindu.

The Congress also issued clarification on Twitter.

"Clarification: There is only one visitor's book at Somnath Temple that was signed by Congress VP Rahul Gandhi. Any other image being circulated is fabricated. Desperate times call for desperate measures?" tweeted the Congress.

The BJP is ruling Gujarat from last 22 years and the Congress is eyeing a comeback.

The first phase of assembly elections in Gujarat were conducted on December 9 in 89 constituencies and the polling for the second phase will be held on December 14 for 93 assembly constituencies. Counting of votes and the results would be announced together on December 18.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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