Gujarat elections saw a new avatar in the ‘janeu-dhari’ and ‘tilak’-sporting Rahul Gandhi, as he hopped temples to woo Hindu voters. During his unusual temple run, beginning with Dwarkadheesh temple, Rahul covered nearly two dozen temples across the state. His pilgrimages included the famed Somnath temple, which has been at the centre of political discord between Congress and BJP, as well as the Akshardham temple of the Swami Narayan sect that has worked as a bulwark for the BJP.He even visited a Navarati pandal in Chandi Bazar, Jamnagar. And when his Hindu branding was challenged, Rahul declared at Bahuchara ji temple, “Main Shiv ka bhakt hoon. Sachaai mein believe karta hoon. BJP jo bhi bole, main apni sachaai mein believe karta hun (I am devotee of Lord Shiva, and I believe in honesty. Whatever the BJP may say, I believe in my own honesty and truth).”By wearing Hinduism on his sleeve, Rahul perhaps forced even Prime Minister Narendra Modi to up his temple visits amid a punishing campaign schedule.To keep the BJP at bay on religious issues, Congress took every care to steer clear of its minority appeasement image. In none of Rahul’s rallies were there any Muslims on the dais, so much so that even Ahmed Patel was kept at a safe distance.Rahul’s temple visits also underscored the fact that the Congress now believes that it will have to reclaim its earlier ‘soft Hindu’ party image, and undo the damage inflicted by its anti-Hindu, pro-Muslim image.The future course of Indian politics might seen a more “Hindu” Rahul Gandhi. It would be interesting to know how Rahul, after tasting relative success in Gujarat, deal with the Ram Mandir issue.RAHUL’S NEW AVATARSome of Rahul’s pilgrimages included the Somnath temple, the Akshardham temple of the Swami Narayan sect, the Bahuchara ji temple and a Navarati pandal in Chandi Bazar, Jamnagar To keep the BJP at bay on religious issues, Congress took every care to steer clear of its minority appeasement policy. Rahul forced even PM Narendra Modi to up his temple visits

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Gujarat elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi’s soft ‘Hindu’ strategy a success