In his mission Uttar Pradesh 2017 and an attempt to revive the Congress party’s fortunes, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has added a first to his name by becoming the first member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to visit Ayodhya since the demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid in 1992.
Before embarking on the fourth day of his mahayatra in Uttar Pradesh, where elections are due early next year, the 46-year-old Congress vice-president met Mahant Gyan Das, who is known for his anti-Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) stance, before having ‘darshan’ at the temple.
No member of the Congress’ first family has visited Ayodhya since the demolition of Babri Masjid 24 years ago, in December 1992.
As a convoy of cars, buses and open trucks rolled into the temple town, people rushed out of their houses to have a glimpse of the Congress vice-president.
Much significance is being attached in political circles to Rahul’s visit to Hanuman Garhi, which is about a kilometre away from the Ram Temple at the disputed Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site.
Rahul stayed away from the site of ‘shilanyas’, the foundation stone that had been laid there in 1989 for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
He will later hold a road show in Faizabad. Rahul’s every move is being decided by master poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has been roped by the Congress to bring back its golden days in the Hindi heartland. Rahul had said if his party forms government in UP, it will have representation from all sections of society in the state.
“Though Sheila Dikshit is the chief ministerial candidate of the party in the state, I can assure you that when Congress party distributes tickets for the Assembly polls, people from all religion and castes will find a place,” Rahul said in a “khaat sabha” in Gonda on the third day of his ‘Deoria to Dilli’ yatra.