Savarkar had once prophesied that Congress workers would have worn their sacred thread over their jackets, if it could help them win elections. It now seems that Savarkar’s prophecy is coming true. For the first time in recent memory, Congress is vying with the BJP to prove that it is as ‘Hindu’ as its electoral foe. With this, Congress has been able to complete the circle, going from Soft Hindutva that was common in Indira Gandhi’s times to soft Islamism peddled by Sonia Gandhi and her coterie to Soft Hindutva once again as demonstrated by Rahul Gandhi’s recent temple tourism. Basically, Congress will do anything to retain power in the country. Congress belongs neither to the Hindus, nor to the Muslims. It will appease to Hindu sensibilities when it is politically expedient and kick and curse the very same Hindus when necessary. Congress engineered some of the worst anti-Muslim riots in the country and then shed crocodile tears when Muslim terrorists were gunned down at Batla house. Bereft of a coherent ideology and even the most rudimentary traits of loyalty to the nation, Congress epitomizes nothing more than an insatiable hunger for power.
Gujarat elections are one of the most keenly watched elections in recent times. BJP which has been in power in the state since 1995 is battling an unprecedented anti-incumbency. With PM Modi out of Gujarat and BJP’s inept handling of recent unrests in the state, there could not have been a better time for Congress to trounce BJP. Analysts believe that Congress has traditionally been the loser in Gujarat because apart from other reasons, it has always cast itself as a faint shadow of the BJP. With RSS trained Shankersinh Vaghela at its helm, Congress has tried to peddle softer Hindutva in election after election to woo the Hindu voters. Gujarat’s voters have always rejected Congress because why would they go for a fainter version of Hindutva, dipped in Muslim appeasement when they had the real deal being championed by the BJP. Basically, all the Congress had to do this time around was to ensure that the elections does not get polarized around religious identities.
But Congress, it seems is in the spate of Lord Shani’s Sade Sati. Rahul Gandhi, in his eagerness to appeal to Gujarat’s Hindu voters, embarked on temple tourism. In one such tour at Somnath, Rahul Gandhi, famous for his ‘”Those who go to the temples, worship the goddess, refer to women as daughters and mothers, molest women in the bus“, had his name written in a register meant for non-Hindus. Rahul Gandhi’s religious affiliation has always been shrouded in mystery, but the eve of Gujarat elections was the worst possible time for this to come up in public discourse. It now emerges that Rahul Gandhi has formerly been identified as a Catholic, following his mother’s religion. But given the sensitivities of Gujarat elections, Rahul Gandhi had paraded himself as a Shiv-bhakta. His party, in order to contain the possible harm that can accrue out of Rahul Gandhi’s religious affiliation, has sought to project him as a ‘Janeu dhari Brahmin’. In all of this, Congress has foolishly, reduced the electoral discourse to one around religious identities. This is a familiar arena for the BJP, one that it has always aced in the past.
But now that the can of worms has been opened, one can only wonder how and why is Rahul Gandhi a Janeu Dhari Brahmin.
His maternal great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, discounting what Conspiracy theorists would have us believe was a Kashmiri Pandit. But, Rahul Gandhi’s maternal Grandmother, the iron-willed Indira Gandhi, married a Zoroastrian by the name of Feroze Ghandy, who changed his surname to ‘Gandhi’, presumably being inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. But Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, married a Catholic Christian by the name of Antonia Maino. It is not clear if she ever renounced her Catholic faith in favour of Hinduism. In the multi-religious household of Gandhis, one cannot fathom how Rahul Gandhi has remained a devout Hindu, so much so, that he continues to wear a Janeu, symbolizing his maternal Great grandfather’s faith.
One really needn’t have dug into Rahul Gandhi’s family history since it is as murky as the Bofors deal signed by his father, Rajiv Gandhi. But, foolishly, it is the Congress that has brought this issue to the centre stage!
For now, Congress’s election strategy seems to be falling apart. BJP, on its part, has stayed true to the theme of Vikas in Gujarat election. It seems that Congress is eager to hand BJP the club to beat it with. Nothing else can explain why Congress strategists would let the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s religious affiliations fester in public domain!