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Congress claims image of Rahul’s name in non-Hindu visitor book circulating on social media is a mischief by the BJP, releases copies of original entry

Accept it or not, election campaigns in India are always communally charged and a gaffe or mischief engineered by political rivals that raise questions on a prominent leader’s religious identity can often make or mar his party’s poll campaign.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and his party, on Wednesday, learned this the hard way as a photograph purportedly of the ‘non-Hindu’ visitor book at Gujarat’s iconic Somnath Temple went viral with names of “Rahul Ganhdi ji and Ahmed Patel ji” mentioned in it. The Congress vice president, who is currently campaigning in Gujarat for the upcoming Assembly elections, had visited the Somnath Temple on Wednesday morning along with a host of party leaders and mediapersons.

The image was promptly lapped up by the BJP, especially its IT cell chief Amit Malviya – the saffron party’s whizkid known for often circulating fake or misleading news and images – who was quick to point out that Rahul Gandhi was “not a Hindu” and had “finally come clean” on his religious identity.

Obviously sensing that the image, already receiving huge traction on social media and the typical abuse and vitriol directed towards Rahul Gandhi, could severely dent the party’s poll prospects in Gujarat, Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Deepender Hooda hurriedly convened a press conference in New Delhi. Surjewala and Hooda released “real” copies of the visitor book entry that Rahul Gandhi had made at the Somnath Temple while he claimed that the one being circulated on social media was not of an entry made by the Congress vice president.

Hooda pointed out that the image that has gone viral on social media has the name of Rahul Gandhi suffixed with a “ji” – a term of respect used for a person while referring to him in Hindi – and claimed that the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi would not have signed his name in this manner.

While the clarification should have ideally put the controversy over Rahul’s faith to an end, that obviously did not happen. Congress-baiters and BJP sympathizers went on an overdrive to claim that Rahul “is not a Hindu” and that the entry in the Somnath Temple visitor book had “finally called his bluff”.

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