AMRELI: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday slammed BJP for the controversy that erupted over his visit to the Somnath temple in poll-bound Gujarat when his name appeared in the register meant for "non-Hindus".
Calling the entire episode as a 'BJP handiwork', Rahul said he only signed the visitors' book and not the register maintained for non-Hindus during his visit to the temple.
"I went to the Somnath temple and signed the visitors' book. People from BJP wrote my name on the register maintained for non-Hindus," Rahul alleged.
Rahul, while addressing a gathering of traders in Gujarat's Amreli, said he is a devotee of Lord Shiva and feels that religion is a private affair.
"My grandmother (late Indira Gandhi) and my family are devotees of Lord Shiva but we keep these things as private. We feel religion is a personal affair and it's inside us. We don't need to issue certificates about it to others," Rahul said.
"We do not want to commercialise this thing. We don't want to do 'dalali' over it. We do not want to use it for political purposes too," he said.
Commenting on Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru's relationship, the Congress leader said both the leaders were friends and not enemies, as proclaimed by some people.
"Sardar Patel and Nehru were friends. Though, both the leaders had political and ideological difference. They event spent time in jail together. Now they are spreading a lie that the two were enemies," the Gandhi scion said.
"Patel was against the RSS. I have his letters. But they say he supported the ideology of the RSS, while he did not." he added.
Rahul's remark on Patel-Nehru relationship came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech where he said Jawaharlal Nehru, Rahul Gandhi's great-grandfather, was "unhappy" when Sardar Patel took up the temple's reconstruction in 1950s.
Gandhi, on the campaign trail for the Gujarat Assembly polls, on Wednesday offered prayers at the famous Somnath temple.
A purported photocopy of the page of the register for non-Hindus with names of Gandhi and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel written on it went viral on social media soon after their visit to the shrine, giving BJP an opportunity to attack the Congress party.
As soon as the news broke out, the Congress accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy against its leader and insisted Gandhi has declared himself as a 'Shiv Bhakt' and is a 'janeu-dhari' Hindu.
Rahul Gandhi has been repeatedly mocked at by the BJP for visiting a string of temples in the state during the election campaign. The Congress said Rahul's visit to the temples was aimed at countering the Hindutva ideology of the BJP and the RSS.
The Congress leader has visited more than 15 temples during his multiple visits to poll-bound Gujarat in the last two months.