Madhya Pradesh polls: Rahul Gandhi to begin Malwa tour tomorrow after visit to Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain
According to a programme released by the Congress, Rahul Gandhi will address public meetings in Ujjain and Jhabua after visiting the Mahakal temple.
Indore: Months after BJP president Amit Shah's visit to the Mahakaleshwar temple in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will on Monday perform a puja at the famous 'jyotirlinga' in Ujjain before embarking on a two-day tour of the BJP-dominated Malwa-Nimar region.
Shah had visited the abode of Lord Shiva on 14 July this year before flagging off the "Jan Ashirwad Yatra" of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The BJP has been accusing Rahul of playing the "soft Hindutva card" to attract the voters in poll-bound states.
During his two-day tour beginning Monday, Rahul will address rallies in Jhabua, Indore, Dhar, Khargone and Mhow and also take part in a road show in Indore.
In Madhya Pradesh, where elections are scheduled to be held on 28 November, the Congress has been struggling to oust the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) from power for the last 15 years.
"During his visit to the Mahakaleshwar temple (one of the 12 'jyotirlingas' of Lord Shiva), Rahul will worship the Lord Mahakal like a common devotee," Congress secretary Sanjay Kapoor told PTI in Indore on Sunday.
According to a programme released by Congress, Rahul will address public meetings at Ujjain and Jhabua, respectively, after visiting the Mahakal temple.
He is also scheduled to participate in a road show to be organised by the Congress in Indore on Monday evening, and will address a public meeting at Rajwada.
On Tuesday, Rahul will interact with news editors and the business community in two separate programmes at Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. He will later address public meetings at Dhar and Khargone.
On Tuesday evening, the Congress chief would address a public meeting at Mhow after offering tribute at the memorial of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar's birthplace. Mhow, about 23 kilometres from Indore, is the birthplace of Ambedkar.
Earlier, the Congress had proclaimed Rahul as a "Shiv-bhakt" (a devotee of Lord Shiva) ahead of the assembly elections held in Gujarat last year.
Gandhi began canvassing in Madhya Pradesh last month by offering prayers at the famous Kamta Nath temple in Satna district's Chitrakoot town.
Meanwhile, the BJP Sunday ridiculed Gandhi for visiting temples in poll-bound states.
Apart from Madhya Pradesh, elections are also scheduled to be held in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan — both currently ruled by the BJP — and the north-eastern state of Mizoram, where the Congress is in power, in the next two months.
BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha said, "Congress has been making false allegations against BJP about playing religion-based politics. Now, Rahul should answer why he is running to temples ahead of elections?
"The Congress president should also clarify why he and his mother Sonia Gandhi did not visit the Mahakal temple during previous visits," he said.
Jha alleged that Rahul was trying to mislead people by pretending himself as a religions person for the sake of electoral gains.
When asked about BJP's criticism, Kapoor said, "Rahul is visiting the Mahakal temple as a devotee of Lord Shiva..in pure sense of devotion. Do the BJP leaders solely reserve the right to worship Lord Shiva? Lord Shiva is for all."
Kapoor clarified that Rahul's likely visit to Janapav near Mhow, which is the birthplace of Lord Parshuram, could not materialise due to his busy schedule.
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Massive security arrangements were in place for Gandhi's visit which came amid tension in the state over the alleged attack on AKG Centre, the headquarters of ruling CPI-M, in Thiruvananthapuram
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