Rahul to visit Ayodhya on Friday

NEW DELHI: In a first-ever visit  by a Gandhi since 1992 Babri demolition, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi  is going to Ayodhya on Friday, the fourth day of his Uttar Pradesh tour, where elections will be held early next year.

As no member of the Congress’s first family has visited Ayodhya since the demolition of the Babri Masjid 24 years ago, Rahul’s  visit  may generate considerable interest in political circles.

In Ayodhya, Mr Gandhi will first offer prayers at the famous Hanuman Garhi temple, but it is not clear yet whether he will visit the Ram temple at the disputed Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site, a km away.

It is said, that Rahul Gandhi’s father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had planned to visit the Hanuman Garhi temple in Ayodhya, but could not because of a lack of time. He was assassinated the next year, on May 21, 1991.

Some political pundits suspect a soft Hindutva agenda in the Rahul’s  Ayodhya visit as the Congress follows a Brahmin-centric campaign in Uttar Pradesh prescribed by election strategist Prashant Kishor.  Kishor is directing every move that Mr Gandhi makes on his month-long tour.

“I am happy that he is going. But his party always accused BJP of playing politics whenever we talked about Ram temple or about going there. Rahul has understood the power of Ram,” said the BJP’s Sidharth Nath Singh.

Mr Gandhi will also visit Faizabad tomorrow, where he will conduct a road show. He is also scheduled to visit the Kichaucha Sharif Dargah, a Muslim shrine in Ambedkar Nagar.

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