As part of his campaign in Karnataka, where elections are due in May next year, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, accused of indulging in “soft Hindutva” during campaigning in Gujarat, will not just visit temples, but holy shrines of all faiths, according to senior Congress leaders.

Defending criticism of the visits made by Rahul Gandhi to 25 temples in Gujarat, B.K. Hariprasad, Member of Parliament from Karnataka, told The Sunday Guardian, “It is not soft-Hindutva. This all is disinformation campaign by the RSS. By going to temples, Rahul Gandhi has respected those people who have faith in temples. In Karnataka, you will see him visiting all places of worship during the campaign, transcending religions, because he has respect for all people irrespective of their faith. Congress’ secular fabric is intact.”

In a prelude to elections in Karnataka, the rift between different communities has been on the rise. With the Lingayat community demanding minority status so that they can be identified separately from the rest of the Hindu community of the state, the divisions have run deep.

On the alleged differences of opinion among Congress leaders on the issue of granting minority status to Lingayats, Hariprasad said, “The Congress party does not support this demand. It is the Lingayats within Congress who are of the view that this demand should be met. Congress is a secular party. The real meaning of secularism is non-interference of the state in any religion. The Lingayat demand has been around for a long time. After the so-called Hindutva forces, which have nothing to do with Hinduism, started capturing power through religious sentiments, other enthusiastic people also started asserting identity.”

Stating the key points that Congress intends to sell to voters after five years in power in Karnataka, Hariprasad said, “Law and order have rigorously improved. In the past four years, there has not been a single instance of firing. Earlier, under the Yedyurappa government, there were farmer killings every day. Today, Bangalore has developed as a city of opportunities. We are providing employment for people across the country.”

With regard to multiple murders of Hindu activists in the state, Hariprasad said, “The 13 RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) workers who died were killed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal men. It is the fight among the Sanghis that led to the death of their own people. Congress comes nowhere in this picture. Law and order is not to be blamed here.”

Highlighting the Congress’ work in Karnataka, Hariprasad said, “The government has introduced various schemes like Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya, etc., and the latest one is Indira Canteen, where breakfast is available at just Rs 5, while lunch and dinner for Rs 10 only. Almost 90% of the promises that Congress made in the manifesto has been fulfilled,”

“The strategy for Karnataka has already been laid out. Like in any other state, Rahul Gandhi will campaign here too and a major attraction here will be the young voters because whenever he has visited, he has attracted huge crowds in Karnataka, unlike the BJP’s Parivarthana Yatra, which is not getting any response. The people have tasted the worst administration during their rule. People will not let them come back,” Hariprasad said.


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