“I am quite amused,” Congress “prince” Rahul Gandhi told The Sunday Guardian over the “faith controversy” that has been created by the BJP over his name featuring in the “non-Hindus register” at Somnath temple in Gujarat. This was done during his Assembly election campaign. Somnath was the temple the incoming leader of the Congress party visited during his Gujarat campaign stops.

The BJP has said that Rahul Gandhi is not a Hindu and that is why his name was put in this register when he went there along with party veteran Ahmed Patel. The Congress hit back by claiming that he was a “janeu-dhari” Brahmin.

“The BJP claims that it is a party with a difference and wants to bring reforms in society, but they question people when they visit temples,” said Rahul Gandhi in a brief conversation which was facilitated by a top party leader accompanying him.

“The doors of all Gods and all worship places should be open to everyone irrespective of religion and caste,” the Congress vice president said. “Why is the BJP scared of my visit to Somnath and other shrines? They just believe in mere gimmicks.”

A senior party leader said, “Is it not absurd that a register has been kept at Shiva’s Somnath temple for signatures of non-Hindu visitors?” “Once a non-Hindu visitor has entered Somnnath temple the register becomes irrelevant,” he said, commenting “what purpose does it serve?”

Dr Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, says that ideally religious places should be open to all but Jagannath temple in Puri is only for Hindus, Sabarimala temple is only for men and women of certain ages.

“We should not adopt Saudi law which does not permit entry of non Muslims to the grand Mecca mosque. The Jewish people are not permitted to pray anywhere at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem except for the Wailing Wall. These restrictions are dated ideas,” says Faizan observing that “moreover even if Rahul Gandhi is non Hindu how it is anybody’s concern in free India?”

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