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AHMEDABAD: BJP chief Amit Shah on Saturday denied the charge that the controversy about Rahul Gandhi’s faith was engineered by his party even as he questioned why the Congress leader does not visit temples when he is in Delhi.
Shah also rebutted Congress’s charge that he was a Jain and not a Hindu. “Our family has been Hindu for six generations now.”
“Left to myself, I would not have declared this. But I cannot let Congress’s insinuation go unanswered and, therefore, declare that my family has been Hindu for six generations,” the BJP chief told TOI in an exclusive interaction.
Dismissing the allegation that it was BJP which raked up the issue of whether Rahul is indeed a Hindu, he said, “We never brought up the issue of anyone’s faith. The question arose only because of the controversy about his visit to Somnath Temple. I have only this to say that no one should conceal his faith. After all, why doesn’t Rahul visit temples in Delhi?”
He further said: “We don’t have a problem that Congress has suddenly decided to display Rahul Gandhi’s ‘janeu'(sacred thread). We hope his mother (Sonia Gandhi) will also have no problems.”
On the issue raised by Congress regarding the business dealings of his son Jai Shah, the BJP president reiterated that there was no wrongdoing and Congress has been levelling baseless allegations since it has little to talk about. “There was no government contract and no help from the government. Moreover people like Rahul Gandhi should understand the difference between profit and turnover.”
Asked about the charge that it was BJP which tampered with the register for non-Hindus at Somnath Temple to make an entry in Rahul’s name, he said, “This is baseless. He entered the temple with a full entourage and it was the co-ordinator of Congress’s media cell who entered his name in the register kept for non-Hindu visitors. Senior Congress leaders have admitted this and the Somnath Temple Trust has denied any manipulation. They are making baseless allegations because the truth slipped out.”
After attending several engagements and meeting delegations, Shah talked at length on the key issues in the Gujarat polls and asserted that his goal of securing 150 of the 182 seats in the state assembly was “realistic”. He dismissed Rahul’s charges about Gujarat’s development lagging under BJP governments.
He seized upon his party’s win in UP civic polls to claim that the outcome on Friday marks a rebuttal of criticism of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the view that it could hurt the party in Gujarat.
“People of UP have already given an emphatic answer,” Shah told TOI when asked about the perceived resentment in Gujarat over GST and demonetisation. He also emphasised that the party’s landslide win in UP assembly elections came in the aftermath of demonetisation.
Uttar Pradesh mandate is the barometer of country’s mood and victory of BJP will certainly reflect in the Gujarat assembly polls, the BJP president told TOI at his party’s media centre at Thaltej in Ahmedabad.
“Both GST and demonetisation are great reform initiatives and country has brighter future. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself monitors GST-related issues and the council sits regularly. We have already brought changes and more changes are to happen soon,” assured Shah.
Asked about Congress’s charge that BJP has made false claims about the success of Gujarat model of development, he said: “Rahu Gandhi is questioning Gujarat model but what has happened in Amethi. I was for bhumi pujan for collectorate office at Amethi recently. Rahul Gandhi has lost Amethi municipal polls. His defeat is not a small incident … the defeat of the Congress shows the fate of the party under Rahul across the country.”
“It is ironic that they are talking about winning Gujarat. Strong anti-Congress sentiment is prevailing in the country and Gujarat will not be an exception,” Shah said.
On Rahul’s imminent appointment as Congress chief, he said it was dynastic succession and the culture of entitlement that BJP is fighting against. “When we say we are working for a Congress-mukt Bharat, we actually declare our opposition to dynastic rule. Congress is a private limited company which is controlled by the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty and we want that nation is saved from the culture which puts birth and pedigree over everything else,” he said.
Shah asserted that BJP is contesting the assembly polls in Gujarat on agenda of development and accused Congress of seeking to reimpose the divisive caste politics once again on the state. “Caste politics had ruined Gujarat and efforts to re-impose it will not succeed. People of Gujarat have come a long way,” he said.